• Sue Short

TIGGER LEONE RIDES AGAIN

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Author's note: Sadly, I have to tell you that the real Tigger, my own greyhound, died on Saturday 25th July 2020. He was twelve years old, an ex-racer, a much loved pet and a delightful companion. He will be sadly missed.


A fictional Tale written in Tigger's memory.

When my parents split up, my father returned to his villa in Spain. This had been his childhood home and was in the village of La Mancha. He died in the 1960s and I inherited his property and a sizeable amount of money.

The surrounding countryside was rural and wild. It was a landscape typical of Spain until tourists ruined it. The earth was blood red and dry. Plants thrived despite the arid conditions and their abundance led me to interest in studying botany. I often went out walking with my greyhound, Tigger Leone. When I say, ‘out walking,’ I mean that I was walking; Tigger Leone would be asleep in the blue cart that I was pulling. He spent most of the day sleeping; greyhounds do that, truth be told.

It didn’t occur to me to question why I pulled Tigger Leone around the countryside in a blue cart. The thought had just popped into my head a week after I bought him. Now I realise that he had suggested it. I bought a wooden cart at the local market and painted it blue. Tigger liked blue. Whenever he needed a rest he got into the cart and had a nap. I wasn’t so lucky as I rarely got a chance to have a rest.

Tigger suggested that I could put my plant specimens in his blue cart. However, once he got in, there was little room for anything else. So for that reason I usually put anything I had collected in the red haversack. Tigger had suggested I carry that on my back in case I found an interesting bone on our travels.

After a day collecting specimens and dragging the blue cart I liked to relax in my leather armchair. Tigger would let me know when he needed a cool drink by woofing loudly. Having poured some water into his antique water bowl I would take the opportunity to pour myself a glass of red wine. On my return, with our refreshments, I would invariably find Tigger, on my armchair fast asleep.

Our sleeping arrangements were decidedly dog orientated. Tigger would start off on the floor, then after about five minutes he would noisily move on to my bed. I would always end up hanging off the side or asleep on the floor. I wondered why I had a bad back. A friend pointed out that the excess exercise of pulling the blue cart and lying on a hard surface were the reason. Tigger denied he had any paw in my predicament.

One day while out walking in the hills, I met a gentleman named Don. He told me that he owned a number of wind farms in Northern Spain and was very proud of their capacity to generate power. Tigger and I had always been impressed by powerful things and people.

What I found particularly special about Don was that he also had a greyhound. Manuel was an elderly animal who was rather pompous. Tigger got on very well with him so that was fine with me.

Manuel was particularly partial to lying on the back seat of Don’s jeep and being driven around the Spanish countryside en route to Don’s wind farms. We discovered that greyhounds, especially ours, have very sensitive feet and prefer walking on soft surfaces. Riding in cars, especially classic cars, is ideal. They are also very persuasive. Who knew?

As we got to know one another, Don and I would have interesting conversations about our past lives. He described the boxing matches he had fought in. He showed me the many scars from the wounds he had sustained. Each time he told me about those fights, they became more graphic in detail. Our greyhounds were very attentive whilst we chatted. When I say they were attentive, I actually mean they seemed to be asleep beside us.

It was a few months after we met that Don and I discovered we were both in a state of puzzlement. You might say we needed to ‘unpuzzle’ ourselves. We realised we spent a considerable amount of time talking to our greyhounds. The puzzling thing was that they seemed to be talking back to us. How else did we discover so much about their lives?

After a few glasses of Sangria, Don and I agreed our greyhounds weren’t talking in the usual sense of the word. The aristocratic dogs weren’t making sounds called speech, but they were communicating in some other way. Maybe it was thought transference. Manuel and Tigger Leone agreed it was something like that.

I told Don and Manuel about the interesting journeys I had been on, accompanied by my greyhound. I also told him how I had acquired Tigger Leone or, to put it more accurately, how Tigger Leone had acquired me. We met at the racetrack on one particularly hot and steamy day. Tigger had spent a day racing against other less noble greyhounds. He had come first in four out of five races and was looking tired. How exhausting it must be to race around after a stuffed hare. I took the chance to get to know him some more. I stroked his smooth head; he licked my face. He described himself as a sight hound and unlike his new owner, he didn’t need glasses.

Fortunately, I had won enough pesetas, in the previous greyhound race, to be able to purchase Tigger.

As we walked back to my home in La Mancha, Tigger Leone had a broad smile on his face: something you don’t often see on a greyhound.

Tigger Leone gave me instructions about his personal care and the food he liked. He was particularly clear that I was never to shout at him.

From then on, I took him on all my special trips. He was good company on long journeys, having many things to tell me. We have been together ever since.

My canine friend told me that greyhounds are mentioned in famous literature, including the Bible and can be seen in many well-known paintings. Apparently, the pharaohs had kept Tigger Leone’s ancestors as pets. He did have an aristocratic look, but I didn’t tell him that I’d noticed that. I started to study Egyptology and saw the sign for greyhound amongst hieroglyphs on tablets and walls. I felt honoured to have such an important animal in my care. I didn’t tell him that either.

We enjoyed visiting Don’s wind farms. Apart from maintaining the wind turbines, we spent many hours discussing sport with Manuel. The greyhound knew a great deal about the subject, having once belonged to a footballer.

So, for many years, we kept talking to our greyhounds and they kept talking to us. People would pass us, pull faces and nudge each other. I suppose they thought we were mad. Maybe they were right. For some strange reason that neither of could understand, Don had acquired the nickname ‘Don Quixote’.

Tigger Leone told me that I wasn’t mad. However, he wasn’t so sure about Don, who had been seen talking to his turbines. I had to agree there was an element of doubt.


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