The King of Dogs

The King of Dogs was Kim. He was a powerful black cross between a Labrador and some kind of mastiff. He had a white blaze on his chest and an enormous and dangerous tail. He was literally king, beating any dog that would dare to enter his territory, which seemed to encompass most of Failsworth. Yet all the local kids could climb on him, pull his tail, jump on him, everything was tolerated.

The only time I ever saw him attack a person was the local newspaper delivery man, who used to ride down the street, being chased by this four legged black avenger. I think he complained to my Dad so he decided that he should resolve this ‘conflict’.

Personally I think the man had kicked Kim and he deserved all he got. Well Kim used to get ‘doggy treats’, that looked like chocolate but didn’t taste much like it, and yes, I did try them. So what better thing to use to make friends. Picture this: my dad has given the man a handful of doggy bits, Kim is sat very patiently in front of the man and very gently takes each one that is offered. Do I need to tell you what happened once the treats were gone? I guess not, but here goes anyway. Kim looked around, no more treats, the lips go back, the growl starts - need I go on?

The garden at the back of number 54 was quite big and Kim was out there most of the time trying to escape. I think they based the film ‘The Great Escape’ on his attempts to jump over the fence, in particular the last scene in the film where Steve McQueen tried to jump a motorbike over a wire fence. I’m not saying Kim could ride a bike, but he tried nearly every other way of getting over. I think they also based ‘The Bridge Over The River Kwai’ on the structure, determination and sheer effort my Dad put into making the fence higher.

This dog also had a very varied, active and successful love life. Look-alikes were appearing all over Failsworth.

Another episode that most people remember involved Kim and some pigs. About three miles away, in Woodhouses, were some pig farms, and on a warm summer’s day with the wind in the wrong direction, you knew they were there.

Late one evening Kim scratched on the front door, as was his way, to be let in. Well I opened the door and this black flash flew past me into the kitchen at the back of the house, closely followed by the most pungent, overpowering, rank smell. It didn’t take long for this to spread throughout the house, around 10 seconds. This King of Dogs, professional stud and chaser of deliverymen had been rolling in pig shit! He was confined to the garden until morning when he could be washed. Thankfully that was a job that I was too small to help with, for when that warm water hit the dried pig poo the smell came back even stronger.

Kim lived to be a ripe old age and had to be ‘put to sleep’ in the end.

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