Aida Austin

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside -

Day trip. Part 2. 1.30. My hus­band and I are be­low deck in a ferry boat cabin, chug­ging across the har­bour to­wards an is­land fa­mous for its sub­trop­i­cal gar­dens. Our dog Tilly has just bounded up the cabin lad­der and fallen over­board. “DOG OVER­BOARD,” my hus­band shouts, run­ning to­wards the back of the boat. “DOG OVER­BOARD,” I shout, drop­ping my sand­wich and run­ning af­ter him.

At the back of the boat, we scan the ocean in all di­rec­tions. “THERE SHE IS,” I shout, point­ing at Tilly, bob­bing around in the ferry boat’s wake. “I SEE HER!” my hus­band shouts. I look fran­ti­cally at my hus­band; If this look could talk, it would be say­ing, “ex­cuse me, but my brains have also jumped ship and I’m not sure when they’ll be back so in the mean­time, we’re go­ing to have to use yours.” My hus­band looks fran­ti­cally back at me. This look says, “ex­cuse me, I’m aw­fully sorry, but mine have too.” We look at Tilly, bob­bing around in the wake like a cork. Then back at each other. To­gether, my hus­band and I have man­aged many, many crises over the years but none of them fea­tured a ferry boat with a small dog bob­bing around in its wake. Tilly fixes us both with a be­seech­ing look that says, “well, don’t look to me for a so­lu­tion, I’m just a stupid dog.”

1.43pm. Tilly doggy-pad­dles with all her might away from the ferry. “SHE’S SWIM­MING AWAY FROM THE BOAT,” I shout, “AT LEAST SHE WON’T GET CHOPPED UP BY THE PROPELLOR.” “SHE’S HEAD­ING TO THAT ROCK,” my hus­band shouts, “THE ONE WITH THE SEALS ON. “COME BACK TILLY, he shouts, WHAT THE **** ARE YOU DO­ING?” “DO SEALS EAT DOGS?” I shout. “I ******* HOPE NOT,” he shouts, “THEY CAN BITE THOUGH. ONE BIT A SURFER’S LEG. ON THE LONG STRAND.” “TILLY,” I SHOUT, “STAY AWAY FROM THE SEALS.” Tilly does an about turn in the wa­ter and doggy pad­dles off in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion. “WHERE THE **** IS SHE GO­ING NOW? My hus­band says. “She’s com­ing back to the propellor, to get chopped up into tiny pieces,” I say, “oh my god, some­one do some­thing.” The cap­tain, hear­ing all the com­mo­tion, idles the ferry en­gine and passes my hus­band a long wooden boat hook. “Slip the hook un­der her col­lar,” he says, “and fish her out.” My hus­band and I give each other an­other look. If this look could talk, it would say very, very qui­etly and shame­fully, “chance would be a fine thing with that stringy old col­lar”.

At this point, Tilly changes di­rec­tion again, head­ing back to­wards the main­land. “COME BACK TILLY,” I shout, “COME BACK TILLY,” my hus­band shouts. But it is no use.

We watch as Tilly changes di­rec­tion again. She is now on her way to Amer­ica. “Some­times,” I say, “you just have to jump into a dis­as­ter with two feet in or­der to avert it. “And we all know whose feet,” he says. “Well, what are you wait­ing for?” I say. My hus­band strips down to his box­ers and jumps into dis­as­ter with two feet. “He’s a fine swim­mer,” the cap­tain says to me, “as good as the dog.”

He takes out a walkie-talkie and makes a call to the owner of a speed boat. “There’s a fella in the wa­ter,” he says, “chas­ing af­ter a small dog.” We watch my hus­band chase af­ter Tilly. “She’s giv­ing your hus­band a run for his money,” the cap­tain says. Fi­nally, my hus­band catches up with her. The cap­tain picks up his walkie talkie again. “He’s out of the wa­ter and on a rock,” he says into the walkie-talkie, “you can’t miss him, he’s wear­ing what-d’ya-call-em?” “Bright or­ange boxer-shorts,” I say, and then, un­ac­count­ably, “with a black and white trim.” “Bright or­ange box­ers,” he shouts into the walkie talkie, “with a black and white trim and he’s hold­ing a small dog. You can’t miss him, you’ll see him there in the mid­dle of the har­bour.”

I see him there. He is wav­ing.

‘My hus­band strips off to his waist and jumps into dis­as­ter with two feet

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