Tuesday, September 19, 2006

19th September 2006

More heavy rain today, coinciding with one of our outings.

This morning I saw the lady with the limp leave in her car. I think she lives in the housing association flats, and understand from some of our brief conversations that she is only allowed her dog - a 15 year-old Westie - as some kind of special dispensation. But during the summer, she has occasionally appeared with a new dog - a rickety little skinnymalink of a dog, about half the size of your average cat. She - the dog, not the lady with the limp - wears a diamante halter, sometimes blue, and sometimes pink, and she only appears under cover of darkness.

Last night, during our Last Lampost of the Night outing, the lady told me that she had to be up early this morning - she was due at the vet for 8.30am as she'd arranged for her new dog to be neutered. We agreed that it was all for the best.

But while she was there, she was also going to ask the vet about her Westie. 'His back end's going', she explained, 'and I'm worried about his quality of life.' She was quite matter of fact.

As somebody who is already busy trying to work out what on earth I'm going to do when my boy shuffles off his mortal coil (he's not yet 2) I was taken aback by her stoicism. I heard myself say, 'Well, maybe the vet will have some ideas...' but it's clear that the lady was way beyond good ideas of the desperate kind.

We parted, heading for our respective beds.

This morning, as her car passed me, I couldn't bring myself to meet her eyes and wave, or to look for what I imagine will be the final time at her Westie. I just walked on, hood up against the drizzle, poo bag at the ready.

I'm hoping to be a better friend when I see her next.

Monday, September 18, 2006

18th September 2006

It's just begin to rain on the skylight under which I work, so I feel obliged to keep to my intention of blogging on rainy days. Which, because I live in Scotland and we're sliding into autumn could turn out to be a full-time job.

The dog is not yet aware of the pitter patter of tiny raindrops. A beach walk at lunch time has left him quite exhausted and he's sound asleep at my feet, groaning gently with every intake of breath.

The beach walk wasn't one of our better ones. The tide was up which meant that there was no way of distracting him from the intrepid picnickers or the other dogs. I kept him on the lead for a while, but the sight of the dog straining elicits a uniform response - head to one side, fellow dog walkers, all of whom have dogs whose sole purpose in life is to obey their owners' every whim, remark, 'He only wants to play.'

So - to save them making the call to the canine equivalent of Childline - I let him go. They smile indulgently at me - Told you! - as my dog streaks towards the nearest dog/picnic/crawling toddler with the express intention of making their day.

He mastered cornering earlier this summer, but braking still isn't a strong point. I brace myself. Today, we were lucky, the toddler was whisked into the arms of a smiling Dad; the picnickers had their own dog who gave mine short shrift - enabling him to put his swerving tactics to good use; but the other dogs proved ideal bundling companions and I could only stand and watch.

Time passed. Other owners called their dogs, perhaps three or four times, before leaving to continue with their day. Mine ignored my increasingly shrill cries - indeed he ignored me. He has perfected a 'Never seen you before in my life!' look.

Eventually, he gives in, and ambles towards me - a few sniffing detours en route to emphasise the fact that his return to the lead is entirely his idea.

We head for the car and continue with our day.

It's been worse. I once shouted so hard that my nose bled.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Today it's raining heavily. A tupperware coloured sky chucking heavy raindrops all over Edinburgh and, presumably, beyond.
My dog is unimpressed.
But if you have a dog, you have to take him for walks, so I'm having none of the eye-rolling, faint groaning or wilful neck stiffening that he's trying out as he stands at the front door looking disgusted and outraged.
Outsize umbrella in one hand, dog lead in the other, we set out for a walk in the park.
I even hear myself say to him, 'You'll feel the better of this...'
But 100 yards later, he's already done everything he needs to do to make him feel better and he's ready to turn right back round and head for home.
I persevere for a while, but he does a lot of sitting down and glaring. People are looking at us.
I turn round and he canters ahead of me, all jolly and pleased with himself, a bit like Alfie in Alfie Gets in First.
And he's right.
Unless you're a duck, this isn't a day for a routemarch round the park.