Dogs are ‘man’s best friend’. I have two of my own and they are almost as precious as my children – almost!
But not everyone buys a dog for the purpose of bringing them in as part of the family.
Quite some years ago when Archie was three and Arabella even younger, Carl dropped our car off to be serviced at the mechanic’s workshop we had been going to for about five years. We did not know it had recently changed hands.
Later that afternoon the mechanic phoned to say the car was ready to be collected. All four of us clambered into my car for the 30 minute drive to the workshop.
When we arrived in the blazing hot western sun of a March afternoon, our car was no where to be seen. We went into the office and asked for our car. The mechanic (and new owner) came out and told us that after phoning to advise the car was ready they couldn’t get it to start. He said they had taken it back down to the workshop and it would be ready in a few minutes. Then he disappeared. We stood around in the grotty office both holding on to a child. After about half an hour of juggling the children and standing in a stinky room feeling like we were burning from the late afternoon sun, I suggested to Carl that we find someone, anyone, to ask when our car would be fixed. Carl scouted around but could find no one. I said, ‘Do you think they are down in the workshop?’
And Carl said, ‘I don’t know, I’ll go and see’.
Carl took Archie down the steep driveway to the workshop to see if he could find out what was happening.
About five minutes later Carl limped into the reception room, covered in blood and groaning. His denim shorts were torn and Archie was as white as a sheet. ‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘The dog, the dog bit me,’ Carl managed through plenty of grunts and groans.
‘The dog. They’ve got dogs.’
‘The mechanics, they’ve got Rottweilers. One of them bit me.’
Then the mechanic stormed in as black as thunder and said, ‘You were told not to go down to the workshop. What did you do that for? I’ve got guard dogs for a reason.’ And he spoke with such aggression I feared Carl was going to be attacked for the second time that day.
Of course we hadn’t been told not to go down to the workshop. And the mechanic was saying he had a sign in the reception area warning people not to enter the workshop but no such sign existed.
Carl could barely stand up. I said to the mechanic, ‘Do you have any bandages?’ And he scrambled through a few cupboards and found a dirty band-aid that looked not only unhygenic but also completely inadequate. I put the offending band-aid back on the counter and said, ‘I think I’ll have to take him to hospital, this looks pretty bad.’ The mechanic said he would bring the car up but I told him Carl would be unable to drive it with what looked like a huge chunk taken out of his thigh. I said, ‘You’ll have to keep the car here and we’ll pick it up later.’
I drove Carl to the closest medical centre and on the way asked, ‘What happened?’
Carl had gone down the driveway with Archie. At the bottom of the drive they saw two Rottweilers chained to a pole. The dogs started barking and were looking quite vicious. Carl and Archie did the dog-leg turn towards the workshop and noticed the dogs started running towards them. Carl was unnerved but felt quite safe because they were on the end of a long chain. But the female dog ran with such force that the chain snapped and she took a flying leap towards Archie’s neck. Carl quickly grabbed Archie and held him high in the air. The dog then sunk her jaws into the back of Carl’s thigh and buttock and wouldn’t let go. Because Carl was using both arms to hold Archie in the air, he had no hands to defend himself. The mechanic eventually realised his dog was now attached to Carl so he yanked on the end of the chain and after a rather painful tug, the dog released her jaws, enough for Carl to be freed.
The doctor said it was the worst dog bite he had ever seen. The wound certainly needed to be stitched but because a dog bite is a very dirty wound it needs to be kept open.
We eventually got our car back and I had to drive Carl to the medical centre every day for the next 10 days for the wound to be cleaned and dressed.
The mechanic didn’t ever apologise, instead he phoned and abused me for the ‘damage’ we’d caused. I was rather stunned as was sure Carl was the recipient of all the damage.
The wound healed with no infection and Carl is now fine, just a little weary of dogs, even if they are on the end of a long chain.
What do Rottweilers and the Titanic have in common? Absolutely nothing. But I couldn’t let today go by without acknowledging the centenary of the worst passenger liner disaster in history. This recipe was served to First Class Passengers the night the ship went down and has been included in a cookbook, RMS Titanic, Dinner is Served by Yvonne Hume.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: I was out of cognac so substituted brandy. Cognac in Australia starts at around $60/bottle so if a bottle needs to be purchased, this would be an expensive meal.
- 30g plain flour
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 70g butter and a splash of olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 30g tomato puree
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 glass white wine
- 1 glass cognac
- 20g sugar 50ml chicken stock
Place the flour and seasoning in a plastic bag add the chicken then coat the chicken completely.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the chicken and residual flour.
Fry the chicken until brown all over. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions, cook until soft.
Add the chicken to the onions together with all of the other ingredients.
Cook gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Removed the chicken and set aside in a warm place.
Turn up the heat under the pan and reduce the sauce until the required consistency is reached. Add a splash of boiling water if needed.
Season then serve the chicken topped with the sauce.
Serve with seasoned rice and steamed vegetables.
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