When we pop over to Bolton to do an overnight babysit for Ellie (er, not babysitting. Thirteen year old twins require a taxi-service rather than child-minding), dog walking is part of the deal. Here’s Sunday’s walk….
I’ve been in Bolton this week. It’s week eleven of Ellie’s chemo treatment. Five more to go. This type of chemotherapy works in three week cycles, and week one each time is usually particularly tough. So I went over to do a few in loco parentis duties.
Extracting the boys from their beds in the morning, and re-inserting them there at a reasonable time each night count as challenging tasks. Ben doesn’t do mornings. All the other household stuff I can take in my stride.
There’s just one task that was never part of my life before this year. Walking Brian, who’s no longer a puppy, but not exactly a mature and restrained adult dog either. I don’t think I’ll ever be a real dog fan, but I did enjoy being exercised by this particularly amiable and boisterous dalmatian. Where to go? Through the woods and round the reservoir? Yes please! Or across the extensive parkland just over the way there? Yes please! And can we go, NOW? Can’t wait!
Two hours might mean four or five miles to me, but ten or more to him as he dashes ahead, back and forth. There are grasses and herbs to nibble; a river to ford; interesting smells to investigate. There are regular doggie chums to greet, and others whom he’s never met. Will they want to play? Brian hopes so. He surges up the steep paths beside the river bank. He leaps into muddy pools. He fords the river – once, twice. He looks for branches to lug about for a while. And he sprints, zooms, bolts and bounds ahead, back, east and west. His joie de vivre is infectious.
Once home, he flops gratefully down, pleased to be left alone to doze for a while. It’s a dog’s life.