One afternoon, I took the dogs to one of the really beautiful parks we have here in town. It was formally the grounds of an ancient priory which is now used as a museum.
I let Clara off lead in places like this (ie, fenced, with only a few exits), although Rolph remains on lead, because that naughtiness of his can come out at any moment - usually the wrong one.
Clara is usually so good, I carry tiny treats in my pocket and every time she rushes back to me, she gets one, which means she never goes far and comes back often.
Anyway, there we were, enjoying the beauty and peace of this place.
We crossed the stream, with Clara running ahead. She then went a little too far and I called her. No response - the nose was to the floor.
I called again, loudly, and she just accelerated off across another bridge. I wasn't too worried as we were in the centre of the park, but I realised she had gone down by the lake - where the fishermen are.
I continued calling her. Then heard a man bellowing “leave it!”, “drop it!” and I’m thinking about hooks and maggots so I yelled my fiercest “COME HERE!” and she did - complete with a loaf of bread hanging out of both sides of her mouth. And over the hedge I could see one of those men you hope you’ll never meet in a dark alley, coming after her.
So, I dropped to my knees desperately trying to get his bread back (complete with generous helpings of drool). Every time I got a bit, Rolph snatched it from me. Every time I got if from Rolph, Clara snatched it back. I was not winning.
So the three of us are sort-of squatted behind the hedge all trying to gain control of the bread and the-man-you-hope-you’ll-never-meet looks over the hedge at this spectacle, gives a pitying shake of his head and says “Let ‘im eat it love. They don’t understand. They’re like small kids.” and stalked off.
Drawing by Sheila Williams ©2010
I sit there feeling vaguely humiliated as Rolph and Clara take turns in snatching the diminishing loaf out of each other’s mouths, silently swearing that Clara is never, ever, going off her lead again.