The alarm went off as usual at 6am. Another day, starting with a yawn, long stretches, breakfast, and the usual getting ready routine. Boring, but then One had to do it.
Padding down the stairs past the kitchen, I could hear the rustle of the newspaper over the munching of toast and marmalade. How I missed those cooked breakfasts, bacon, sausage and all the trimmings, but due to cutbacks, something had to go and it was decided on the cholesterol fix.
I joined the others and took my place, sitting perfectly still as I was shampooed and blow dried. I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror and preened at the end result.
Someone had called for the car. All that waving and smiling came next. I could never really see the point. Hundreds of people lining the streets, waving flags, cheering and clapping for someone they only knew from photographs and the media. I was never keen on the walking bit either, but that was always inevitable. I hope I didn’t need to go to the loo. That was embarassing last time, but then these things happen and it was a perfectly natural function. If it hadn’t have been for the seriousness of the occasion, then the red faces would have been quite funny. However, One is not allowed to laugh at such things.
Today we were opening a new shelter for the homeless. Nothing I’d ever have to worry about of course, living in a palace and assured of warmth and regular meals. It was unfortunate that some more lowly souls than myself suddenly found themselves on the streets through no fault of their own, but hey, not really my problem.
The place was not quite as I’d expected. The staff were pleasant enough but stiffly polite (probably nerves) and the noise was deafening. I stood proud and calm as everyone either shook hands or curtsied. Looking round at my surroundings, I could smell disinfectant, so different to my usual perfumed soap or shampoo, and suddenly felt sorry for the occupants of this cheerless place. As we were shown around, several forlorn faces stared back at me from behind bars. Some were constantly barking, some cowering in a corner or lying disinterestedly on their bedding, whereas others were standing on their hind legs hoping to be fussed, or better, loved and taken away to a new home and better life.
We came away, and I have never felt so depressed. I had been so looking forward to another day of being admired. No-one was ever allowed to fuss me of course when we were out, but at home, it was different. I had tummy rubs, cuddles and ball throwing sessions with the kennel maids. I had a warm basket and soft cushion, lovely grub and beautiful grounds to romp and play in with my friends. We could even chase a rabbit or two when no-one was looking. Having seen and felt the despair today, it was something I would never take for granted again.