Sheila caught an enormous leguaan(monitor) on our farm to give to Charles (Jed) Howard and presented it to him when next they visited, but his wife, Val, put her foot down and forbade it. A week later, she caught a small one, to which Val reluctantly agreed. It joined Jed’s menagerie of ferrets, geese and guinea fowl in his city garden.
A few months later, whilst we were on a visit there, Jed was sipping whisky and showing some kids the leguaan, as we sat beside his pool.
“She loves me,” said Jed and kissed it.
It promptly clamped its jaw onto his lower lip. We rose to our feet in horrified concern, but Jed remained cool. With finger and thumb, he squeezed the reptile’s jaws until they opened. With the leguaan held gently in one hand and his whisky in the other and blood dribbling down his chin, he chuckled.
“It must be a boy,” he said.
Val, in her caring way, had rushed off for a bottle of disinfectant and a swab. Jed lifted his glass for a sip, just as Val tried to wipe his wounded mouth and the disinfectant ran into his whisky. Jed cursed, jumped to his feet and smashed the glass against the wall; the only time I have ever seen him lose his cool.
“You’ve ruined a damned fine whisky,” he stormed. He returned the leguaan lovingly to its box.
On their visits to us, Sheila’s bitch, Sam, the Jack-Russell – Border Collie cross, would attach herself to Jed until they left. Jed would jokingly say that he would take Sam away with him. She was an extremely intelligent animal. She watched television with attention and concentration when the subject interested her. Such as sheepdogs at work. We were also absolutely sure that she recognised the subjects of some photographs that were shown to her from her different reactions to each one.
The rapport between her and Jed was also something strange and intense. In the weeks to come I shall relate more on both Jed and Sam.