Mark had fallen in love. She was a bitch. A cross between a Scottie and a Westie. Mark liked to think of her as a Scotsie, his little Scotsie. Well she wasn't strictly his Scotsie, she was a young girl's little pooch. Every Saturday he would see this grey wonder and ever since, freed of its pink lead, the little bitch had run her nose up his right ankle, he had taken a shine to her. That moist cold nose on his heavy pale ankle was bliss and the longing eye Scotsie had made for him, wow!

Scotsie was clearly unhappy with her over bearing insular owner, otherwise why the eye? Mark believed that the little girl clearly didn't understand Scotsie and merely used her as a play thing, perhaps to plonk a Barbie or Ken on top of as though a donkey at a beach. He went on to imagine the girl force feeding the dog over a little tea set and shoe horning her into a toy pram. Mark was outraged, Scotsie was just a form of amusement for this unworldly, unloving child. He wanted to free Scotsie, to elope with Scotsie, show her the world, make a fresh start for both of them.

Mark kicked the ball over to his companion Rufus. The park was filling out and Mark knew that Scotsie would soon be ceremoniously walked through by her possessor, the petulant, abusive little girl. Rufus took more time on the ball than Mark had anticipated, he was ungainly trying to flip the ball onto the back of his neck. Mark urged him to pass the ball back, as time

was not on his side. Rufus was not responding to Mark's direction, which was infuriating; he had only been asked as cover, I mean nobody asks Rufus out anymore, at least not since Toby had cast rumours of his involvement with Derek's mother.

Mark's eyes suddenly honed in on the elegant strutting Scotsie, from behind a bothering Pit Bull some distance away. He took stock of the distance and with a quick estimate of ETA, knew he needed the ball back. Rufus was showing no sign of yielding the ball so Mark set out to acquire it himself. He jogged over to Rufus and lunged with his leading leg for the ball. Rufus took up the challenge and counter acted, bucking Mark's advances and turning his back to shield the ball. Mark glanced over at the advancing Scotsie and then despairingly tried to turn the awkward Rufus. Rufus using Mark's momentum to his advantage, skewered on the spot and as Mark plummeted to the floor, scampered off with the ball. Mark hit the floor hard, this was not going at all to plan, but he was a winner, he was resourceful.

Mark took a large intake of breath, eyed Scotsie's advance then got to his feet, threw down his arms, grunted and paced up to Rufus. Rufus toyed over the ball miming a shimmy, Mark at first responded with a jovial twist of his shoulder then feigning a lunge, stood back and struck Rufus with his favoured left. There's one for Derek he thought, before plucking up the ball and cantering in the direction of Scotsie. His

timing was perfect, he slowed his canter once in range, assessed the wind and with one swift movement drop kicked the ball straight at the young girl. The ball struck her firm on the face lifting her off her feet and as she began her descent, blood was generously airborne from her nose. The young girl's mother screamed, unable to place what had just happened. She attended her blood soaked daughter, not noticing that Scotsie had lost her rein and was scampering away.

Mark did not falter, although he had not been prepared for such gushings, he kept a level head and was in hot pursuit of his love. Scotsie ran midway into the mass of green and losing her bearings halted. Mark hot on her heels slowed, 'Hello Girl!' Scotsie looked up at Mark, there was no fondness in her eye, no love. Mark crouched and peered deeper into his Scotsie's little grey face, nothing. A white poodle barked some metres away. Mark looked up and as he did he was sure the poodles tale wagged in his direction, that blunted cartilage protruding from the beautiful white pearly curls most defiantly wagged at him. Mark found himself motioning towards the poodle.

Poodle, oodles, noodles. He would call her Noodle.