And so it went on. Dixon very soon settled into his new household – a modern bungalow, a secure back garden, regular meals and walks, two boys to play with and two cats to ignore – he had it made!
However change was looming because soon after he joined our family we moved into a large old house with plenty of grounds and alongside a large playing field – whoooooooo this was freedom. In those days there was not a lot of traffic on the roads and anyway we were in the country so Dixon was able to take himself out and about when and where he chose. Mind you this backfired a little on me when I used to get a call from my sons` primary school `Mrs. B – Dixon`s at the school again …` Little wretch he found out where his young friends went to during the day – it wasn`t that far away – and joined them and the other children in the playground – all having great fun. I would usually have to collect him from the secretary`s office – snug in front of her electric fire in the winter-time. Apologies all round – well not quite from Dixon who thought this was a great game – plus he got to ride in the car on the way home.
Yes Dixon loved riding in the car. He very quickly learned the sound of the car engine and would try and join me when I waa going out. I had to drive quite slowly along the unmade road leading from our house but could accelerate once I reached the made up road. Dixon would accelerate too and could be seen in the rear mirror tearing at top speed in the middle of the road trying to catch me up! Usually I would stop and pick him up – he would jump triumphantly into the back seat and then proceed to bark triumphantly at any dog he saw on the street. Oh did I mention that when Dixon barked thus he broke wind too? This amused the boys greatly, was tolerated by my friends and amazed and embarrassed acquaintances. I did tell you that Dixon was revolting didn`t I?
Dixon would allow other people to use `his`playing field – his favourites were the cricketers. They used lovely, shiny red balls that just fitted in his mouth. He could never understand why they wouldn`t let him field and why they yelled at him so!
My youngest son and I were out shopping one day (minus Dixon who usually decided that activity was not to his taste). There was a large cardboard box on the pavement outside a Seed Merchant`s shop – there was a note on the box in large letters `RETIRED FROM BREEDING PURPOSES`. On peering inside the box I was met with the steady stare of brown eyes owned by a large, ginger guinea pig. He was lovely and of course we wanted to give him a home. I paid the sum asked and hefted the box into my arms and made my way back to the car.
We called him Brigadier Pontoon -Brigadier because his ginger coat looked like an army uniform and with his very size and enormous dignity he would be of a senior rank. Pontoon? Well – twenty-one shillings used to equal one guinea in old money. And, of course, Pontoon card game is also know as 21. A little obscure maybe but the name suited him. His housing was easily provided. There was a porch outside the backdoor with an old-fashioned wooden larder with two shelves and small meshed wire on the side. It had a sliding door but I soon found out it was not necessary to shut this. Plenty of nice soft hay and it was home fit for a Brigadier indeed. The cats soon found it was a cosy place for a nap too and often were to be found curled up with Pontoon in his snuggery. He would listen for certain noises from the kitchen – washing of milk bottles or chopping of vegetables would trigger a snuffling, whistling sound from him audible through the closed kitchen door – because that meant I would be coming into the porch (a) to put out the clean milk bottles on the shelf above his lair or (b) to give him the vegetable bits pared off.
He needed exercise and was quite happy to trundle around the back lawn – Dixon watched his progress with interest and then decided he was moving far too slowly so he picked him up gently in his mouth and ran around with him. No harm done – Dixon was very gentle – so this became a regular game.
Three more cats found their way into our home – making a total of five. They were no trouble and mostly good mousers too. They loved the Aga cooker and in winter were to be found lined up along the base on small mats put there for that purpose.
Dixon reigned supreme – top dog so to speak until the introduction of Grandma – but that is a story for another time …
Yours aye, Anne