Friends for Life

Initially idly, and then increasingly avidly watching Crufts last night, I was delighted to see a whippet from Scotland win the Best Hound group.

Of course she’s not a patch on our handsome hound (who another whippet owner kindly described a few weeks back as having ‘Supermodel looks’) but hey.

Still the most wonderful part of last night’s viewing wasn’t the pedigrees or the agility – or even the fabulous ‘Warrington Wizards’ in the ‘Flyball’…

It was the wonderful Assistance Dogs helping people with dementia:

And with disability:

There are committed people running amazing projects like Dogs for Good’s heart-warming Dementia Dog Project which has Scottish prisoners training dogs to help people with Alzheimer’s.

I was chatting to a friend on the street (returning muddily from this morning’s walk with a very mucky pup) and we talked happily about the joy of dogs.

And on reflection of course, I wouldn’t even have been there if we didn’t have a hound.

For all the mud, mess, commitment, time, food, poop and getting rained on; dogs make life better – and for some people they quite simply make their lives worth living.

I’m glad we have a dog again.

Dam; Busted

After a month of refusal, obstruction and obfuscation… on Monday the dam finally broke.

Under siege from my other and better half, out thought and out argued by my eldest; and finally advised to throw in the towel by my youngest… I gave in. Tomorrow we drive to the south coast to pick up a small brindled bundle of energy and potential joy called Romeo.

My daughter’s well argued PowerPoint put a massive crack in my defences

Our friends bringing his sister Winnie round last weekend brought the proposition to life…

So tomorrow we embark on by my guesstimate circa 17 years of having a hound again. Here he is looking rather down in the mouth with his breeder:

Albeit I know I’ll end up schlepping around in the rain, cold and dark for myriad hours as a result; I also know – in my heart of hearts – this is a statement of genuine optimism.

A dog brings mess, bother, responsibility, cost and ultimately great sadness – in their inevitable and sometimes painfully protracted decline. But a dog also brings joy, unconditional love and companionship; no one more pleased to see you when you open the door than a dog.

Every home is a happier home with a hound.

And so to our old dog. Poor old Mr Tumnus went downhill very badly in his last months; but he was a very fine hound for a good 7 years. It has taken half a decade but it’s time to welcome another big fella into our lives.

Walking

20140322-162127.jpg

Freedom
Strides
Sky
Buds
Architecture
Birds
Small sounds
Joggers
No dog
Park
Get a dog
Steps
Slowing
Then
Home

For the first time in about a decade I found myself at a relative loose end – at home with the missus and kids having no immediate need of me. Bizarre.

So I went for a walk. Spring sunshine, birds chirruping and the luxury of solitude. Wonderful to have the time to notice blossom, roof lines, trees and flowers.

I walked up roads and cut-throughs I’ve never trodden before. And then it started to feel a bit weird, all on my own. And I yearned for our big old bristly stripy greyhound, who is no more.

Absent children, a man surely needs a dog on his walks. One day…

No-Dog Walking

20111231-184544.jpg

Tramping to the shops
Passing old dog haunts
I natter with a dog lady.
Her Yorkie bitten,
‘It’s not the dogs it’s their owners’
We conclude.
Tramping back
Friendly paws climb my jeans.
Never mind,
They needed washing, I lie.
Leaving the park
Another woman asks
Where’s your dog?
Popped his clogs I say
And we natter of furry friends.
Too much responsibility she says.
Hmmm, I reckon I’ll get another,
In about seven years
When the kids don’t need walking any more.
We laugh.
Dogs get you talking
Even when they’ve gone.

Man’s Best Friend

Unprecedentedly, I’m home alone this weekend. I’ve cooked some tasty meals, listened to some absorbing cricket, cleaned the fish tank, sunk a few beers, watched some great films, done some washing, tidied up, been late to bed, lied in. And now I’m out for a walk.

It’s a lovely sunny day. But it’s a solitary business walking without a child. No-one to hassle me for sweets or ice cream. No scooters, wobbling bikes, tripping up, tears, bruises or grumbles about being bored… And so my mind wanders to my erstwhile furry companion.

Poor old Mr Tumnus. His ashes in a box and his spirit in the sky in a red jacket, lapping powerfully just behind an electric bunny. I miss the old boy today. My kids have more than replaced him. But when they get older and need me less, I think I’ll need another hound to accompany me. Around about my 50th birthday I reckon. Watch this space.