Today we are thrilled to welcome talented author and lovable Labradoodle, Dougal, and his owner, Sarah Stephenson, whose book Dougal’s Diary was released yesterday.
Thank you Sarah and Dougal, for taking the time out in your busy week to be interviewed.
First of all, how did you two get together and who chose who?
DOUGAL: I can tell you, right now, it almost didn’t happen. She wanted a rescue dog. Went to Battersea but couldn’t find any promising to be a child’s best friend.
SARAH: It’s true. I came away feeling quite despondent, then saw a notice in a sweet shop, advertising Labradoodle puppies, 11 of them. It had been up in the window for weeks. I rang at once.
DOUGAL: I overheard the conversation. Sorry to dob you in but… It went like this, “Have you any left and are they the rubbish ones?” Me, rubbish! Come on, paws in the air, admit it! Let’s get this straight, I hadn’t found a home because a) no-one had taken my fancy and b) my nickname was big boy. Anyone seeing my mother might have worried. She’s a giant, beautiful, but a giant. You almost didn’t have me.
SARAH: Well, I’d never planned on having a large dog.
DOUGAL: When you drove off without me, I was devastated.
SARAH: I’m sorry. I pulled into a lay-by almost immediately and called to say I’d changed my mind.
DOUGAL: Then I had to wait two more weeks, while you went to India.
DOUGAL: Only for you to return with a rice obsession.
SARAH: Let’s leave the rice problem out of it.
DOUGAL: If you’re pulling rank, I’m heading for my basket.
Sarah, what did you think when you discovered Dougal was keeping a diary?
First total amazement! Then my elation at having such a clever dog, changed to worry. What was he writing about, the thrill of a luncheon invitation, or the unfairness of life?
Has it made you re-think your role as a dog owner?
Yes, definitely. There are dogs and there is Dougal. And now he’s older and wiser, I often wonder who is looking after whom.
Dougal, how has keeping a diary helped you?
Alan, my vet calls me barking mad! Really! What about her? Life at times is an enormous trial. Writing my diary has saved my sanity. And it’s fun looking back and charting my progress from cute puppy to handsome hound, once unknown in Greenwich Park, now almost famous as Boris Johnson. I closely identify with BJ’s shaggy, unkempt appearance.
Sarah, have you ever kept a diary?
I did as a teenager, through ballet and drama school, then again when my mother who was never easy, took to her bed. She remained there in a blacked-out room for almost twenty years. Supposedly she suffered from poor balance and light sensitivity. She wore three pairs of dark glasses. Outside, she had a wheelchair and used a welder’s helmet to block out light. Later she became frightened of burglars and ordered a cross bow which she practised in total darkness against her bedroom walls. She was a bad shot, there were holes everywhere. Meals on Wheels feared for their lives and refused to deliver. The stories are endless.
Dougal, what would you do if someone asked for the film rights? And would you like to play yourself?
I would jump at the offer. I couldn’t play myself all the way through. I’d need a stunt dog for the cliff-hanger scene and a cute puppy to play me in the early months. I wouldn’t want a stand in for any of the muddy or fun scenes. I couldn’t abide seeing some Labradoodle usurp my position as No 1 party animal. And as for jumping, is there a dog out there who can beat my 7’ 6” Olympic record?
What’s next for Dougal and Sarah?
DOUGAL: Do you mind if I leap in here?
SARAH: No, go ahead.
DOUGAL: I’ve had to put my two books, “Family life for Dummies” and “Living with a Rescue Rat”, on the back burner. Right now I’m in communication with Virgin Atlantic, R Branson, no less. I’m helping them out. Not as a steward, although I adore the uniform and meet and greet is in my line of work. No, I noticed a gap in their services. Problems with their safety video; it’s so boring no one watches it. They’ve tried humour, without success. Now it’s over to me.
I shall be filmed locating the emergency exits, pulling down the oxygen masks, inflating the life jackets and shooting down the escape slide. One humdinger of a show; watched by all on board. I’ll be there to shake paws on special flights only. Meanwhile I’ve got a stop watch. Need to practise holding my bladder. On long haul it could be anything up to 19 hours, getting through by sucking ice cubes. However hard the struggle, it’s going to be an honour.
Mm, sounds interesting, Dougal! What about you, Sarah?
SARAH: I’m moving into cozy crime. We’re told to write what we know. I’ve spent the last twenty years as a free-lance chef, cooking in Britain, Europe and the States, in the homes of the very wealthy. I am sending Tilly Carey, a newly qualified chef down to a crumbling mansion in Gloucestershire to cook for a funeral. She is given a frosty reception by a quarrelling aristocratic family. Death occurs. Poison! Is she to blame? In order to clear her name and prevent further tragedy, she needs to discover what’s really going on. Who can she trust? Will she do it in time?
Good luck with the book and all your future ventures (and adventures!), and thank you again for agreeing to be interviewed.
Has he chosen his owner well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No 1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.
He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and either become a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish-list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.
Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?
Available from Crooked Cat Books on Kindle now. Amazon link to Dougal’s Diary