At three years of age, Phoebe said: ‘when I get married, I’m going to wear your wedding dress, mummy.
‘You'll look lovely,’ Liz said smiling.
I wasn’t there, of course. I wasn’t even a pup in the belly. But trust me, I am a dog-of-the bride, I know these things.
Now Phoebe is in her twenties and the day of her wedding approaches.
Florists are being been booked, cakes tasted, deposits on reception centres made, and a great deal of discussion about suits, dresses and fabrics is being bandied about. Phoebe’s whimsical childhood promise of wearing her mother’s wedding dress forgotten by all but Andrew. He returned from a recent business trip to Adelaide with the dress in its mouldering packaging.
‘What’s that?’ Phoebe asked as he laid the box at her feet.
‘Mum’s wedding dress,’ he said. ‘You said you wanted to wear it.’
Everyone laughed, except Phoebe. She knew he wasn’t joking.
As I lay on my medium sized fully washable pet pillow, I heard a story in her silence.
Every mother wants to her baby girl to wear her wedding dress, and every mother is determined her adult daughter will have a new dress. I mean, it’s all very well to wear a matching collar when you are a pup. But once you are a mature hound, ready to leave home and manage your own household, you need a collar with some gravitas.
Dogs understand this, even if fathers don’t.
‘Go on,’ Andrew said, ‘try it on.’
‘It won’t fit,’ Phoebe said.
‘Mum was pretty skinny when she got married.’
Everyone turned to look at Liz, trying to imagine her with Phoebe’s waistline.
‘I might still be able to fit into it,’ Liz smiled, nervously.
There was a polite silence.
‘Phoebe’s skinner than I was on my wedding day. But I think the dress was altered for Wendy’s wedding. I'll try it on after you, Phoebe.’
I sat up, my nose twitching. This was the opportunity I'd been waiting for. Like all good investigavtive journalists, I’d been working undercover, sniffing out potential stories, waiting for the time to swoop. The pricking of my paws, told me that moment was now upon me.
As Phoebe clumped down the hallway her arms swathed in yellowing fabric, I made a dash for the camera cupboard, thinking of headlines, such as Wedding Dress Scoop or Heirloom gown for Zone Three Wedding. I drew the camera out of its pouch and took up my position behind the couch. This would be bigger than Wills and Kate, the world in a frenzy. We’d have to hire security, keep the gown under lock and key.
The dress was loose on Phoebe. She turned like a model, the not- quite-white- ruffles swirling prettily. I had quite a lump in my throat as I crouched, low to the ground, the shutter clicking repeatedly.
Next it was Liz’s turn to try on the gown. I saw her smile slip.
But she walked bravely to the bedroom and came out a few minutes later grinning. 'Not bad,' she said, holding out her hands and curtseying.
But she didn’t twirl about as Phoebe had. She stayed front on, the creased skirts hanging stiffly.
At this point, I faced a terrible dilemma. It's one thing to talk about being an award winning journalist, quite another to show a middle-aged woman in her wedding dress to be pudgy and pretending, especially when the woman in question holds the key to the treats cupboard.
My lightly furred underbelly clenched painfully. I thought of the cupboard full of Oinkers, Beef Chews and Dentastix. Perhaps it was wrong to exploit another’s weakness? To climb on anothers back, and win acclaim from it? Then I thought of words like hard hitting and responsibility, duty to society. I remembered how it felt to Fail Alpha Dog Training. Scruples be damned!
I felt every vertebrate in my spine click. Dog like me have to take every opportunity. I slipped around the couch, before Liz had a chance to notice, and took this shot.