I like dogs. If circumstances allowed, I’d like to have a dog again. But since that isn’t practical I have to limit myself to admiring them from afar.
The route to work passes through a park (one of the few things the local council does well) which is understandably popular with two- and four-legged walkers.
An owner stands, tossing a well-chewed tennis ball from hand to hand. A black labrador watches, tail wagging expectantly. It’s obvious what’s going to happen next. Or is it?
The ball is hurled off into the distance. The tail wags a little faster. The labrador’s head moves slightly, following the ball’s arc through the air, looking for the exact spot it will land.
The ball bounces. Once, twice. Still the dog does not set off in pursuit. The ball trickles to a halt and at last the labrador moves. By all of a couple of steps to settle itself in the sun, stretching out to gnaw on the stick it had been carrying.
The owner looks bemused and then trudges off to retrieve the ball. This time it’s their turn to fetch.
I have fond memories of Lils (but not of Hils).
Getting up at the crack of dawn (or, more often, being woken up by a barking bundle of energy who didn’t want to be cooped up a moment longer).
The way she looked at me excitedly: “Please Sir, can we go out NOW?”
The way she knew that when I reached for my trainers her wish was about to be granted
She strained at the leash. She was still a little girl at heart. But she was growing up fast; learning to obey and understanding what the rules were. Until we had crossed the road and walked through the churchyard she had to behave.
Then I would set her free. To bound across the fields. And chase birds and rabbits. All of the time having fun. While keeping half an eye on me so she knew just how far she could go as she raced hither and thither.
When it was time to head for home she would sit while I hooked the rope back on to her collar. Because, back on the path, rules had to be obeyed.
But she’d still pull like a train on the road back home through the village. Because she knew we would return to bacon butties or sausage sandwiches. And she’d sit at the end of the kitchen counter with her wonderful liquid eyes.
“Please Sir. Dry biscuit is so dull. Tomato ketchup is so much more tasty…”
She was adorable. And trusting. And loyal. Unlike the person I was dog-sitting with.
The moral of the tale? Man’s best friend is…