Mary Powell: “Out For a Walk With the Dogs”

Walking the dogs is a pastime that often involves me although I don’t own a dog.

A friend believes it is mean to have only one dog; they need a mate so she has two.

On Easter Monday she and I joined another friend who is perfectly happy with one gentle and loving dog called Fleur who is somehow related to a King Charles spaniel.

I’m sure I’m invited to join these walks because of my wit and charm but I’m not unaware of the fact that a third dog-handler is pretty much essential.

That day I arrived early at the meeting spot and was in time to watch my friend with the two dogs get them out of her car.  One is a very bouncy gregarious small, black, pooch called Bob who like children with ADHD finds it hard to keep still.  He caused his lead and Charlie’s to become entangled.  I watched while Joy struggled to untangle the mess and get them out of the car.  I could’ve helped but it was more fun leaning against a concrete bollard watching.

As they neared me Joy started talking,

“These two are driving me mad.  Bob has barked most of the way here and Charlie didn’t want to get out of the car.  Then I found his lead was hooked up and he couldn’t get out even if he’d wanted to.  Here!”  She hands me a lead.  I found it was Bob’s lead when he sprang towards a couple of passing dogs. I congratulated myself on having a firm grasp on it.

We waited for Nicky.  We didn’t chat because Bob was fully occupied with yapping and charging at the passing four legged traffic and taking all my attention.  Charlie had decided that this was a chance for a toilet break and dragged Joy around while he looked for a spot to suit him.

Nicky and Fleur arrived, Joy managed to find a bag for the pooh and we headed along the path to the dog beach.  Joy told us how many times Charlie has poohed that day and how often yesterday.

It was busy along the path and there was a queue at the water station.  While we waited for Fleur to drink, Joy who was still holding a green plastic bag, explained the problem to a couple of people in the queue.  One of them helpfully suggested boiled rice.

Fleur queue jumped and had her face in the water before a few larger dogs who were ahead of her managed to get their snouts in the bowl.  A discussion about this got underway with a suggestion that we should have been watching what was happening. Several people pointed out that there was a queue in case we hadn’t noticed. Fleur slurped up her full of water and we moved on leaving the queue to sort its self out.

Bob leaped around on the end of the lead rather like some mechanical toy that barks a lot.  Joy shouted, “Shut up Bob,” over and over again.  Bob appeared to take these words as part of the background noise and continued to do what he was doing.

Nicky and Joy discussed the latest inoculation their dogs were booked in for. They think the injection should not be a yearly event and the vets do it every 12 months for money.  They wondered if they should defer for another year and save the money.

No decision was reached by the time we arrived at the gate to the dog beach.  We struggled through with the leads and dogs getting confused.  We unclipped them and let the dogs have their heads.

Charlie, Bob and Fleur race off to sniff the dogs that arrived before us while we strolled across the sand.

Dog owners stood around and talked dogs.  One topic was the breed of their dog.

Charlie is a Chinese Crested and this draws attention to us. We’re popular as hairless-Charlie is an oddity.

Bob’s breed is harder to determine. He arrived in the Lost Dogs’ home with no history.

The conversations don’t flow freely as we are constantly interrupted.

“Charlie. Charles! Where the hell has Charlie gone?”

“Can you see Fleur? I hate the way she hides in those sand dunes. Fleur! Fleur!”

“There she is right behind you!”

“Oh. Right!”

And so it went on.

There was no wind, the sea was like glass and the sun came out. It was a perfect day for taking the dog to the beach.

Charlie, who wears a coat over his hairless hide, managed to get it soaking wet so he had to have it removed.  He was back in the sea again immediately and Joy hoped, out loud to anyone that was listening, that the salt water would be good for his skin but now there was a problem of him getting sunburned. She wished she had brought some sun cream.  The sun was hot for mid-April.

Later, when we were at a local cafe a young girl about six or seven came up to ask if she could pat our dogs.  The dogs were lying on the warm concrete dozing. Bob and his voice were zoned out.

The girl stroked them and finally with Joy’s permission sat with Bob on her knee.  He curled up and breathed deeply. He’s didn’t drop off though because he was able to rouse himself to say a few words to a poodle that passed too close but he was half hearted about it.

I took Bob back to his car.  He had lost any urge to bounce.  I like Bob better when he’s exhausted with sand and sea.

My face had caught some sun and the corn fritters with egg and bacon at the cafe were delicious.  It was worth the trip. I lifted Bob into Joy’s car, gave him a pat and said goodbye until next time.

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