Monday 14 April 2014


 Impossible to resist, the apparently gravity-defying Lady

“Paw, Lady!”

My 3 year-old Collie-Lab obligingly lifts her paw so that I can slip on her harness. Standing with her face pressed against the back door, she’s fizzing like a dropped bottle of Coke about the prospect of the walk.

Nevertheless she knows to do the dance, the little do-si-do where I close the kitchen door, she moves backwards so that I can open the back door and then she waits. All eternity must pass before that over-eager dog’s eyes as she waits for to me to say


My knee is strapped tight into a velcro brace, my foot isn’t hurting too badly and as we step out, my heart bounces like a bunny. Warm sunshine, lush green grass laden with dew and I’m out for a Spring ramble with my dog.

Well, hmmm, no, not really. I’d love nothing better than to take half a day and ramble at will across bog, down bohreen and green road, but I need to manage the pain in my joints by being sensible.

Was there ever such a boring notion as ‘sensible’?

As we turn the corner of the house and face the front gate, three of Lady’s doggy friends arrive. The young collie is on heat, her bits hanging out like a raspberry milk jelly and the randy brown terrier is jumping up on her, humping her leg, her head, anything he can reach.

Considering his legs are no higher than a matchbox, he does very well. Evidently he’s been successful elsewhere, as a litter of minuscule versions of himself and what looks like a Jack Russell mum appeared the other day at the top of the bohreen. 

Nothing will stop his drive to continue his line. Last June the Snapper and I sat and watched him try to mate with a semi-deflated football in our back garden. The adorable little dog went hammer and tongs at it for hours, only stopping when I removed the ball, deciding that the universe offered more beautiful things to watch on a Summer’s afternoon than a scarlet extended canine sausage.

Lady is overjoyed to see her pals and at this stage so am I, as I know she’ll exhaust herself playing with the Collie. She’s only 3 years old and I worry my damaged legs can’t give her the exercise she needs.

Lady and the Collie tumble each other over and over, growling roaring and pretend biting. Utterly undeterred by the arrival of another beast ten times his size, the rusty randy little Terrier gets stuck into the melée too, grabbing his front paws on any Collie parts he can, while revving up to do what dogs do.

When I set off up the bohreen, the Collie and Terrier decide to come too, and so it begins. Nearly all the many dogs that live around here run loose, but Lady is on a lead. She’s a rescue dog who has a bit of record with ducks, pheasants and whatever takes her fancy. My heart breaks that she can’t run with the others, just as my joints are breaking at having to walk her on a lead, but that’s the way it goes.

So now she’s not just pulling but straining on her lead, desperate to catch up with her mates. The one thing the doctor told me I shouldn’t do is allow myself to be pulled along by a dog, as the impact on my foot and knee will cause pain. Thanks Doc. Where are you now?

The Terrier and the Collie inadvertently torment Lady as they dive in and out of the hedges and stone walls. She whimpers and stands on two legs as she watches them race across the fields. My sorrow knows no bounds. Every part of me wants to unclip her and say

“Go on girl! Enjoy!”

If I did, I’m sure she’d return to me, or home eventually, but my working day would disappear while I waited for her, and when she came back she’d be covered in half a continent of muck that would take ages to clean off.

So we persevere: Lady straining so hard she’s almost only walking on her hind legs; me trying not to stomp my feet down hard, as I use considerable arm strength to restrain her.

Not so much a Spring ramble as a mad dog dash!

Still I insist on taking a few moments of pure pleasure from simply being here. I give thanks that I live in such a beautiful place, enjoying each morning a walk that encompasses bogland, pasture, hedgerows, trees, and distant russet roofs of ancient barns.

Fortunately, Lady hasn’t the quickest eyes in the world. Both the Snapper and myself have seen the most massive rabbits leap from the hedgerows on our walks. They are enormous, yet Lady only recognises their presence by smell, when we walk across the land they leapt over.

If rabbits are not her passion then hares are as nectar to her. Last week she suddenly went completely mental on our walk, straining and jumping with a crazed urgency I’d never seen before. Then, a good 300 metres off, we both saw the hare.

Don’t know what they feed the wildlife in these parts but none of it seems stunted in growth! Even taking into account the distance, this hare appeared the size of donkey foal, bounding in a haphazard and casual fashion across the bog.

That morning, as now, I found myself with an overexcited dog on my hands. All the way up the bog road and all the way back, Lady strains and pulls to catch up with her pals. By the time we return home my knee is sloshing around like a bag of liquid, detached from my leg completely.

On the plus-side, the dog is utterly knackered. Collapsed on the kitchen floor with her tongue lolling out, she won't need attention for hours.

Lovely! Off to work, to scribble of Spring rambles...

©Charlie Adley

No comments: