Sunday, 16 June 2019

Write-In 2019: 'The wolf in sheep's clothing' by Mary Sheehan

‘Mary has a little lamb.’ My older brothers taunted. There was nothing I could throw back at them, it was true. I did. His name was Bonzo.

I was at that tender age when there was still a possibility of fairy tales actually coming true. Each night I went to sleep dreaming of galloping over the meadows on a white unicorn and each morning I dreaded that Bonzo would actually follow me to school.

Pet lambs in stories are gentle, loving, fluffy white things, but actual lambs have greyish wool and do not play with children. An orphan lamb is a different creature altogether. Bonzo was confident, sturdy and black-faced. I bottle fed him after his mother died and he quickly became used to humans. Whenever he saw me, he would rush over looking for food, even if he was already fed. His method of inquiry was to butt me with his head, gently at first and not so gently if really hungry. Now a sheep’s forehead is remarkably robust. It’s the instrument of attack that rams use while fighting for mating rights and a full on head butt sounds like a shot from a gun.

Bonzo spent his days hanging around outside the house with our species tolerant dogs. It can only be supposed that Bonzo began to think that he too was one of the pack. Our dogs got great delight in greeting any visitor with a volley of barking. They did this while wagging their tails… as was only polite. This delicacy was lost on Bonzo, who greeted his first visitor in the only way he knew how… head on. After the surprised party picked himself up off the ground and retreated behind the gate, we thought it better to put up a sign.

Beware the lamb.

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