Behold: The Dog
His life is pretty basic. My life with him is pretty basic too, until he complicates matters with his hunting instinct as well as his fear-based flight response. It’s a basic life, until he is legging it at twenty-five miles miles per hour after something, or legging it at twenty-five miles mph away from something. Only he and I know the difference.
The problem with writing blog posts in parts is that you forget a) where you finished last time b) what you called yesterday’s post. When I have to start checking these kinds of details it kind of makes me not want to write at all. Plus which I am not so enamoured of the humour of the situation I am writing about now as I was yesterday. Friday is a long day and there is a lot of work to be done. It’s emotionally demanding work and I am tired now, but that’s ok.
Anyway, back to mine and Rudi’s non-finest moment which I started yesterday. To recap, I had spent a morning talking to the dog and we finished up with me asking him to pick a dog biscuit selection which he did. We then made the best of our way home and I felt like a good owner with treats for the animal. The point of the treats was this. When I let the dog out last thing at night I can’t always remember when I get to bed whether I did let him back in. It’s one of those repetitive things that you do every day so can’t quite recall the detail e.g. I know there was out involved, but did we do in? I then get up and check and he is always there, on the sofa, looking cross with me for turning on the light. So I mark the letting in with a treat and then I find I remember giving him that more easily than I remember the door being opened to admit one dog into the house. It’s a memory marker. A trail of breadcrumbs through the dark woods of domestic memory. The problem is that I don’t buy dog biscuits, so if I give him the same treat every night, a slice of bread is the absolute favourite with him for some reason, I find myself back downstairs after I’ve gone to bed, turning on the lights and generally disgruntling the dog.
Bag of different biscuits means different memory markers means no more nocturnal memory lapses. I hung the biscuits in the bag on the key rack by the front door, out of the dog’s way. At some point later that day, my daughter took the bag down and gave Rudi a biscuit from the bag. I forgot by the evening I had bought the biscuits, so he got a slice of bread.
The following day the dog found the bag of biscuits which my daughter had conveniently left on the hearth. Dogs being what they are, he ate the lot. I was dismayed when I realised. The things were full of additives and colouring for goodness sake. I mildly remonstrated with the daughter (remonstrating with the dog is a pointless exercise).
‘It will be me later, clearing up the runny poo,’ I said.
She pulled a face at me. The dog declined his actual dinner for that day, so full was his belly of giant bone-shaped and heart-shaped biscuits. The whole thing spelled trouble.
The following day I took the dog for his walk. Quite often, in the winter months, I rock up at where the beach should be, only to find that the tide is out. An estuary tide covers quite a distance, so out is out by a few miles and in is nearly in to the pavement. No beach to walk on on this occasion, so we walked on the opposite side of the road until we reached a manicured piece of grass, slightly raised up and set back from the road. Benches line the edge overlooking the estuary and, in the summer, older people sit and sun themselves and enjoy the view. It is right next door to an art deco ice-cream parlour. Southend has its unclassy spots for sure, but this part of Westcliff-on-Sea is a little more genteel in a distressed 1930s fashion. Rudi designated the grassy knoll as his poo platform for the day and evacuated an alarming orange variety of runny poo (as predicted) in copious amounts.
I was pretty pissed off. All this hassle because of pick and mix biscuits and a faulty memory. The quantity involved meant it was a two-handed job, so I dropped my gloves and bag on the floor to tackle it. Sadly, some of it went where it shouldn’t have and left my right index finger daubed in orange. There are no words to describe the disgust of this experience and it’s worse when cars are driving past and elderly ladies are enjoying banana splits, ice-creams sundaes and retro milky coffees only ten feet to your left. I had to double bag the shit and beat a hasty retreat before someone came out and saw the enormous orange skid mark we’d left on the lawn.
I wanted to get straight home and wash my hands, but we had a way to walk yet, so I put the gloves back on in a delayed and after the horse has bolted protective measure. As I pulled on my right hand glove to cover the offending finger I noticed something. The index finger of the right hand glove was covered in bird shit…
My perfect life (not).
There’s a final insult which happened when I came home from work this afternoon. It involves the bag that the biscuits were thieved out of. I can’t bring myself to write about it now though. And I may never. God knows there are no illusions left to destroy round here, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.
My dog has made me anti-social. Some might say more anti-social. The problem is that, like me, the dog is not anti meeting other dogs as such, he is just sensitive to the context and the type of dog. I would like to think, that in the latter case, I am more forbearing than he…
The problem with urban parks is that they are full of the kinds of dogs my dog might not like. It is hard to tell what kind of dog that might be; often I cannot tell until it is self-evident and far too late. I have started avoiding other dogs because it is easier. Often, I earmark a place as being suitable and empty of dogs and people. We begin our walk and then, lo and behold, it is like I have dropped an acid tab marked with a snarling set of canine choppers and we are surrounded by dogs.
That’s why today I drove out to the edge of the earth, although during the holiday period even the edge of the earth is busy with dogs. Still we managed to have a wild and windswept walk without encountering anyone too threatening. I took a few (rubbish) photos and the dog amused himself by doing his impression of a railer at Crayford greyhound track. He pretends he is wearing the red Trap 1 jacket, although he is actually wearing a green one with a red trim, and buzzes me at 25 mph, whilst I cross my fingers he doesn’t put his paw down a rabbit hole.
I thought I had lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land in my head for a while out there today. The scenery was Waste Land ish and, because I took a short and muddy cut behind a driving range I found what must have been 2012’s quota of lost golf balls. Actually, the Eliot poem that mentions the ‘thousand lost golf balls’ is Choruses from the Rock. I have written about that before. I picked up 22 golf balls; there were more. Like the acid tabs marked dog, once you drop the one marked golf ball you can’t stop seeing them in the undergrowth or half-buried in the mud but if I hadn’t have stopped then, I would be there still. I threw the 22 back over the fence and high netting that was intended to prevent their escape in the first place. It was the opposite of returning them to the wild. I don’t know if it was the day’s good deed or not.
And the wind shall say: “Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls.”
On the way back to the car we were completely surrounded by dogs. Nightmare. Spaniels, terriers, puppies playing with footballs. If there is any time my dog is most likely to be anti-social it is when he has had his run and has his mind on a lie-down. I proceeded with caution.
One dog passed us, whining. He was a beautiful brown Saluki called Caspar – one of the Three Wise Men no less. He was, however, kept on a lead. His owner said he didn’t trust his recall, this was after two years. I pointed hopelessly at my dog who had slipped out of reach to greet a fellow, tethered, sighthound. ‘I don’t trust our recall after five,’ I said. We shared the brief moment of helpless embarrassment. These saluki and part-saluki lurchers are undoubtedly beautiful, but they are not of this world. They belong to camels and tents and following a star.
That’s the title that’s keeping my own ebook from the top spot in it’s free download category this weekend: Animal Care & Pets if you care to know.
I am not concerned, in fact I can’t help but smile. It’s certainly a title to reckon with. In fact, I nearly downloaded it myself before realising that of all the many disgusting habits my dog has, eating ‘poop’ is not one of them. I suppose if it was called ‘How to Stop Your Dog Occasionally Snacking On Cat & Horse Shit’ I might have hit download.
I live on the edge of catastrophe with this dog. Every day it’s something, preferably involving a cat or a squirrel, or failing that, trying to fling himself out of a window in a bid for the unfettered freedom of a good pursuit. I do my best to curtail (geddit) his most heinous urges, but I take my own life in my hands when I do. Tonight, in the dark, he nearly knocked me out on a lamppost in pursuit of a cat under a car. The other week he rent my coat literally in two as he tried to go from 0-40 mph in a millisecond (again in pursuit of a cat). There will never be a day when I can let my kids hold him on the lead, and tonight was the last evening walk ever, if I can help it.
It’s not like he doesn’t get out much, here he is this morning tearing up the beach and barking at buoys.
The dog is a bastard.
Still, I believe in him more than I do in God.
On a different, but related, note, I am interested in how the very straight poles are curved when photographed in a group and how the dog manages to look very bendy indeed when he decided to run away from the buoys (as they were clearly too dangerous to be trusted).
I can see the squirrel about fifty metres away. I must have my spectacles on otherwise I would not see anything. The squirrel is well out of its ground – equidistant between two substantial trees; in short, much too far away from guaranteed arboreal safety for my liking.
My dog, the barbarous Hibernian, has not yet seen it. He has no need of eye-glasses. As a sighthound, his eyes do what it would have said on the tin if they had come in one… which they very well might have so bionic are their powers, compared to my pathetic efforts at long distance vision with the naked eye. Without my non-tinted, non anti-scratch-coated (extras I live without), diamante-studded (included in the price) spectacles anything on the horizon is a blur.
I know if it so much as twitches, which it surely will, that being a main squirrel activity in life, the dog will see it immediately and it is doomed. I shout and become most animated – much waving my arms about and calling repeatedly ‘Where’s the ball?’ The dog does not turn in my direction. He has his back to me, but if I could see his face I know I would see his eyes narrow.
His shoulders tense together and drop a little lower. He is not a Pointer, yet somehow he manages a respectable half-point in the direction of the furry grey rodent. The squirrel crouches, oblivious. I am transfixed.
I want it to stop before it starts but it is too late. And when did it start in any case? When I decided to walk him here, in the park. Not really, I deliberately headed this way, to the tennis courts and grassed football pitches and away from the trees because it is squirrel season. I came this way to avoid squirrels. And here is this idiot prey animal, miles out of its ground, asking for trouble. Did it start when I decided to spend my half an hour lunch hour (that’s what a working mother ends up with: half of what everyone else does) walking the ingrate hound? Or was the squirrel’s fate signed when it was born, surely after I had found the dog in my possession? Who knows, existential questions are impossible enough for the human condition to answer without trying to apply the model to a squirrel whose existence is in imminent mortal danger.
The dog takes off. Even with significant yardage to make up the dog is too fast. The squirrel runs, it dodges, and finally darts through the high, wire netting that surrounds the tennis courts. With no apparent entrance for dogs to the courts, he is foiled.
I feed this animal about 4 times a day – I can never get a covering on his ribs. He always seems in good form though *touch wood*
He’s the third dog I’ve had; I’d like another smaller one. A walk’s not the same without a dog.
I didn’t take this photo – it was taken on a Samsung S2 mobile phone. Not bad at all.