Aug 022020

I wake up to the memory of yesterday's Coronavirus infections in Victoria, 428! Staring at the ceiling, I think that we are almost certainly heading for Stage 4 restrictions. Time for some decisive action, so I sit up in my nice warm bed and make a list. Then, I consider my options: medical centres, pharmacies, veterinary surgeries, greengrocers, butchers and supermarkets will stay open, even in such dire circumstances (we can't let the populace starve to death before the virus gets them, can we?) but pet shops will almost certainly not be open. That decided, I leap out of bed, figuratively speaking, more like a cumbersome roll, actually, and head for my shower.

For some reason, I'm sure some unforeseen disaster will prevent my shopping as panic sets in. I dress quickly and load Jess into the car. Jess is the second member of my two-people family, which comprises a two-legged person (me) and a four-legged person (her). She needs some new balls to tide her over any impending lockdown. Now, having seen Jess's reaction to others of her species, some feeble-minded wit, thinking they are hilariously funny and original, might think that she has enough balls for six dogs, but I'm talking about the toy variety.

On the way to the nearest pet shop at South Morang, I suddenly remember that I have forgotten to eat breakfast. I have had no breakfast! This is a truly disturbing indication of the severity of the situation! NO BREAKFAST! Never in the Frances Family Annals has such a thing been recorded, not that much has been recorded at all, of course.

I fed Jess her chicken drumstick at the crack of dawn when she woke me up with an unblinking stare, several centimetres from my face, but then I forgot, an hour later, in the excitement of the headlong rush to the pet shop, to fortify myself. This is concerning. Is it an indication of an increase in the speed of dementia, which I'm certain is waiting around some corner to pounce on me?

Anyway, despite my enfeebled and unfed state, we make it safely to Best Friends Pet Shop. I leave Jess in the car, since she would make short work of any other poor, innocent, furry customer, and I head inside, sporting my surgical mask. I feel silly wearing it. This is only the third time I've PPE'd up. The first two times my glasses fogged up, which is a bit of a deterrent. To my chagrin, I am informed that I have the mask on upside down, with the wire bit under my chin. It's amazing how much better it works now that I have it on the correct way up.

Three girls are hovering near the register, all anxious to serve me. Who knows, I might be the only shopper they see all day. Other customers might not realise the disaster they are inviting if we aren't allowed to even walk our dogs, let alone if they don't have enough toys to keep boredom at bay. Watch out chair legs, especially expensive velvet covered ones! Not that I need to worry: most of my pieces of furniture are Savers Specials.

I can't find the tough, pimply balls that Jess favours so one of the girls graciously consents to show me. But, horror of horrors, there's only one blue ball left. My baby will just have to put up with the only other inferior ball, a red one. Moved to guilt by my lack of ability to fulfil her needs adequately, as a responsible parent of a canine should, ("My German Shepherd, my responsibility", my car sticker reads), I lash out on a colourful rope ball, a rope pull toy and a bag of dried kangaroo liver pieces. In principle, I am opposed to feeding pets parts of our beautiful national symbol, but needs must. This situation calls for extreme action and selfish self-interest wins out over ethics.

I walk up to the register where the helpful girl eyes my mask suspiciously. "I'm smiling behind this", I say, pointing at the offending object, worn this time the right way up, and crinkling my eyes at her over the top. She is unimpressed. Hmm! No sense of humour. I make it out of the shop, pet trophies in hand, after handing over half the value of my house. Opening the car door, I toss the rope toy inside to a waiting Jess. She, too, is unimpressed and ignores it.

I sigh and head for the Bridge Inn Shopping Centre, to buy, what else? Mincemeat for Jess at the butchers there. I then head for Chemist Warehouse and spend the equivalent of the other half of my house on vitamins for me. Reaching home, I make a coffee and then unload my purchases. Jess has finally deigned to chew her new rope ball. Half an hour later, as I finish my coffee, having put my shopping away (I use my own bags of course), I glance at my girl happily gnawing away on her bed in the lounge room. To my annoyance, the brand-new tight rope ball has morphed into a strange creature with a round body and two hanging black legs. Jess's mattress is littered with little discarded clumps of dark material. It took all of three quarters of an hour for her to wreak this destruction. I point out to her that it's just as well I love her! I'm not sure this translated very accurately into canine. She stops her chewing, wags her tail and gives my hand a warm lick.

I glance at the wall clock. It's too late for breakfast, so I cook myself some lunch, chicken schnitzel and salad. Satisfied at last, I now feel up to dealing with the situation in the loungeroom. Jess has taken her strange rope creature outside. She wants me to play with her. I toss the soggy object a few times. Then I return indoors to gingerly pick the sad little remnants of her once beautiful rope ball off her mattress. And so goes another day in Stage Three lockdown. I wonder what 'unprecedented' events Stage Four will bring? Either way, even if the ball met the dust or rather the jaws, Jess and I are well prepared.