In memory of Gilli

We’ve been having some really beautiful weather recently. I appreciate that having typed this, it will now start to rain and by the time you read this you will no doubt be up to your armpits in water and beginning to develop webbed feet. If this is the case then I apologise whole heartedly. But for now, the good weather has meant that my walks with my constant companion, Harry, have been enjoyable experiences. Actually “constant” isn’t a terribly good descriptive word for a companion who is by my side for about 10 seconds during the whole walk, but he does nip back now and then to check up on my laborious progress or to show me a rabbit that he has managed to catch, or even better a rabbit that someone else caught a week ago. Dogs do love a good strong smell and in his generosity, Harry assumes that I do too.

For this reason my preferred walks with Harry don’t end near a rabbit warren. Too many times I have made the mistake of not getting him back on the lead in time and then just waiting uselessly whilst my dog undergoes paroxysms of ecstasy as he dashes uselessly from one thicket to the next. I also like to end the walk near a source of running water, this means that he can have a drink and I can give him a quick scrub down because the thing that Harry loves almost as much as a good scent is a good mud pool. In fact if he can find a stagnant bog then he is in heaven. It always amazes me how even in the most severe of droughts my oh so white dog can find the last patch of dark, stinking mud available.

It is fun watching him play though, he’ll go from walking to trotting, then a wee bit of a jog and suddenly he’ll see a movement and he accelerates from a canter to a gallop to finally flying as he launches himself through the scrub and up and over obstacles with his back legs flicking out behind him. Despite these Nirmod like qualities he just about always fails and pads back to me, tongue lolling, having enjoyed the chase as much as any end goal.
Walks on the beach are just as much fun, all those wonderful seagulls which hang teasingly above his head. The other day he was so intent on launching himself at a flock of seagulls that he completely misjudged the depth of water beneath his pads and suddenly plunged into a deeper section and had to doggy paddle his way back to a shallower point. As I watched the seagulls laugh at him I thought about the best way to describe the shock on his face for this column and to comment on how rather vacant in the brain department my dog is, when my foot plunged into a hidden dip in the icy cold sea and water poured down the top of my boot. I don’t know if I actually heard Harry snigger but his tongue was definitely lolling in an even more laughing fashion than normal. As I sloshed back to the car I decided not to comment on the intelligence of anyone who fails to spot dips on the seabed.
Our friends have just lost their 4 year old Springer who was out on a shoot and impaled herself. She didn’t survive but we all know that she was probably more annoyed at being impeded than in any pain. Springers are wonderful, mad, happy dogs and it’s heart breaking to hear of one dying so young.

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