Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Dog and the Doughnuts

Warm baked bread, always makes me think about the old bakery in Shettleston where I grew up.
The bakers shop had a typical layout. It had loads of glass shelves with bread; cakes and buns all on display and it had white coated shop assistants serving the customers.

The black and white tiled floor had a fine dusting of flour that always stuck to your plimsolls as you left the place. The smell was amazing; it was concoction of dough, sugar and hot floury loaves emanating from its big ovens.

In the back shop you could hear the bakers shouting and going about their business, one of them occasionally coming through to the shop with a big wooden bread board loaded with loaves that he emptied onto one of the top shelves.

Mr Shaw was the head baker and I knew him as his daughter was a pal of mine. Sometimes he would let me come through the back shop where I would watch the people at work and gawp at the wonderful arrangement of cakes and see the mountains of dough all set out.

At times he would let me taste some fresh bread. He would just rip a big crusty loaf with his floury hand and give it to me to put in my mouth, hot from the oven. To this day nothing has ever tasted so good.

On good days he would hand me a big bag of doughnuts to take home to my mum for our tea. I would grab it, thank him and run outside and untie my dog Major from a lamppost and dangle the bag in front of him. He was a black and white mixed breed - somewhere between Alsatian and mongrel. I loved him.

He understood the sign and would jump up and down excitedly trying to snatch the bag with his teeth. He wanted a doughnut.

The bag was soaked in oil and sugar and made patches of transparency in the brown paper.
It was warm and the sweet smell was so tempting that I would get halfway up the street before I let go of the dogs leash and I would dip my wee hand into the bag and I would pull put a big sticky roasting hot sugary doughnut.

It was fresh from the fryer and you could smell the oil, it would scorch my fingers as it mixed with the sugar and yet I would still stick it in my hungry mouth, burning my lips yet biting deep through the crispy sweet crust to the doughy middle and savouring every moment of it.

My dog Major would be watching me, his bright eyes staring hard, his black pointy ears right up high and the anticipation in his face making sure that I never missed any of his body language…he wanted a doughnut and he wanted it right now.

His front paws would dance about as he sat on his hind legs, tapping out his impatience and wagging his tail on the dusty ground. I would smile in between mouthfuls and pull out a thick sugary ring and throw it to him.

The dog would catch it in his mouth but then let it drop; he would sniff it and poke it with his sharp dog claws till it was cool enough to eat.
He was never as daft as me to go ahead and burn his own mouth.

I would be nearly finished and he would slowly lick his doughnut, and then he finally gobbled down the whole thing and then would lick all around his mouth and we would head off home.
Major would always run into the front gardens to make his way up the street, he liked to skulk and slip through the fences and sniff for other dogs, occasionally barking to let me know here he was.

If I didn’t shout “Here boy” he would bark again till he got the sign that he knew I was there with him. It was a language we both knew without it being taught to us, dog and kid in harmony.

If anyone approached me to chat, the dog would dart through a fence like a wolf and prepare to attack with his hair all standing up jaggy and vicious looking.

If it was someone I knew I would say “It’s ok Major”, yet he would still stand and growl till they left. You never made many friends with the dog around.

People just accepted Major was an angry dog and often avoided me incase they had an encounter with him; I would notice how people would walk across the road if I was carrying a dog lead wrapped on my wrist.

I was never scared of him; he never once bit me or even growled at me. Most days he would jump on my bed, his sharp claws digging into my legs to get me up as he needed to go pee.

“Major go leave me alone” I would whisper, but he just scraped at the bed clothes till they were all clawed off.
Freezing cold winter mornings would bite hard and both us would be standing shivering in the back court as he did the world’s longest pee.

“Hurry up Major, how can you pee that much?” I would ask him.
His big brown eyes would look scornfully at me as If he was annoyed that I was watching him pee!

Then he would dog scratch with his legs into the dirt to signify his toilet is finished and would dart across the white crispy frosted grass and sniff for stuff that dogs sniff for, whatever that was.

“Come on Major its freezing” I would moan as my teeth chattered, he would dart his head back to look at me, his eyes pleading for a few more minutes of outdoor dog freedom.

He would leap up into the bins for a quick sniff around, bark at a few pigeons, growl at anyone who happened to pass through the back courts and then run back to join me in the run upstairs to our flat.

He always beat me in that run, he had four legs and I only had two I would often shout at him. But there he was standing at our door panting and almost laughing at me, with his tail wagging.

I would fall to my knees and hug him, rubbing his rough hairy coat and breathing in his dog smell. He would turn and wriggle away.

Major wasn’t a soppy sentimental type of dog, he didn’t much like contact.

Occasionally in the house when the fire was roaring he would snuggle up to me and then shuffle in front of the fire and lay flat.

His hair would be scorching hot and he would let me stroke it flat, sometimes he would extend a paw to me if I stopped, letting me know he liked being touched…just sometimes…only when it suited him.

I miss the dog.


His Girl Friday said...

First, I want to say, just ruined my diet!
(just kidding)
Actually, I really liked the story. I think most everyone can relate to the childhood memory of that favorite animal, especially that favorite dog, I know I do! :)

Middle Ditch said...

Hi. I can also relate to the story, but mine was a cat.

You might like my story on middleditch.blogspot