With Paul the eight-armed oracle hogging the limelight, Mrs. Nouveau saw a golden opportunity to get her name into the Society Papers via Dolly the Daschund...

The surprising thing about the World Cup this time was that there were so many non-human participants who hogged the headlines. Paul the Octopus got more column inches and TV coverage than any single player or team, and other animals were soon brought in to join the fun. Apart from Pauline, the Dutch counterblast to Paul, there were the parakeets Mani and Meena, Althea the Eagle, and Freddie the Falcon; and who can forget Harry the Handsome Crocodile?

One of our very own was Aloysius the Elephant who brought disgrace to his saintly name by his atrocious behaviour. When two bunches of bananas exactly equal in weight representing rival teams were placed before him he made a grab for both, and the mahout who tried to restrain him was rudely pushed aside. The latter was deeply hurt. “How could he do this to me,” he lamented, “when I've nurtured him for the last 30 years, ever since I was a little boy and he was subsisting on maa ka doodh?”

Sad story

Sadder, much sadder, was the story of poor little Dolly the Dachshund. She, you will understand, was no ordinary dog. Bred in a world-class kennel of prize-winning stock she boasted a pedigree as long as my arm and was named after the great warrior queen of Germanic myth, her full title being Brunnehilde of Brunswick. At six weeks old she had been bought and flown down from Germany by a nouveau riche couple, who displayed her as a trophy at parties. “Don't ask how much I paid for her,” Mrs. Nouveau would tell her guests although nobody had asked, “or the tax man will be after me.”

Her name proved to be somewhat cumbersome. After all, how could you say, ‘Sit Brunehilde', or ‘ Heel Brunehilde', or, worse still, ‘Brunehilde, you naughty dog, you've wet my best carpet' with any degree of authority? So a pet name had to be decided upon, preferably something short and alliterative, and she became Dolly the Dachshund.

With the advent of the World Cup and the prophecies of Paul the eight-armed oracle, Mrs. Nouveau saw a golden opportunity to get her name into the Society Papers and, just before the final, she invited some journos for tea. Two mouth-watering marrow-bones, one marked S and the other N, were placed in front of Dolly who, being loyal to a fault, sniffed around and turned them over with her paws, looking for one marked G for her home country. Not finding it she was about to walk away, but was coaxed into changing her mind, and at last chose N. The Nouveaus were overjoyed, especially when Dolly was prominently featured with the entire family on page 3. Here was a triumph beyond their wildest dreams.

Frantic call

And then came Black Monday. N had lost, and S had walked away with the coveted Cup. Mr. N was at his office attending a crucial meeting when he got a frantic call from his wife. Death threats were pouring in and she was scared, very scared. “I can't do anything now,” he said. “I'm about to clinch a deal. Call the Police.” Soon there was a second call, even more high-decibel. The police were warning her that an angry mob was making its way to her house shouting, “Dolly, murdabad”, and she should run for her life. And on no account, they said, should she take the dog, or the mob would follow her car. “What shall I do, oh what shall I do?” she sobbed. “Do what they tell you,” he said without so much as a tremor of regret, and switched off.

Alas, poor Brunnehilde-Dolly, most lovable and devoted of animals, angelic of temper and noble of mien, had you followed your heart and rejected both those treacherous bones you would have been alive today. Nothing, not even your royal name and the length of your pedigree, and least of all your callous, uncaring family, could save you from a tragic fate. It was written in your stars. Tamam Shud.