The humans in my life suddenly perked up a couple of days ago. It’s not easy for me to get through to them and I often have to rely on outside forces to make them see sense. In this case it was the unexpected appearance of sunshine that brought on this burst of new energy. All through the winter the routine has been a walk in the mornings, when they could summon up the energy to get out of bed and then two short trots in the afternoon and evening so that Poppy and I could “empty our tanks” – this euphemism is all theirs.
Out came the sunshine and out came the walking boots, big smiles and before you could say “don’t forget Boo’s biscuits” we were in the back of the car and off to the banks of the River Tweed. There is a nice wee parking spot alongside a bridge over the river that leads to the hamlet of Dryburgh. We were trotting over the bridge – ok I’ll be honest, I hate bridges, especially wooden ones or any that move when you are walking on them so I wasn’t trotting, I was trying to use my toe nails to give me better anchorage whilst concentrating on not trembling because that made the bridge wobble even more. Coming out of my intense concentration on the task of staying alive I heard Margaret say “where’s the path?” It seems that the river was so full that the path along its banks had disappeared. I’m told this is due to snow melt. Frankly I didn’t care, I just wanted to get off that bridge.
We walked away from the river and the humans found a long country lane where Poppy and I could run without danger of meeting any traffic. Humans have no idea how exciting the smells are in new places. We can tell so much about the other dogs who have been here before us, even what they had for breakfast! I can tell you’re jealous about that. We walked on up towards Dryburgh Abbey and the Abbey Hotel, both of which are closed at the moment. We walked through the grounds of the hotel, looked out at the gardens of the Abbey and the girls took photos of the snowdrops while we just sniffed them to detect who had been there and peed on them before us.
I could sense that, despite the lovely weather and the walk, the girls were a bit downcast. The next day I found out why. We went for our afternoon walk to the grounds of Abbotsford House. It was muddy in places and Poppy took full advantage of her favourite environment. Sometimes they call her PigPen, she’s such a mud magnet. That makes me laugh, although I’m not so keen on their nickname for me. Whenever I’m filled with outrage, which for all the right reasons is fairly often, they call me Norbert. I don’t know why – I have a perfectly good name of my own. Anyway, back to the walk at Abbotsford House. After trudging our way along the muddy paths and taking photos of snowdrops (why do humans do that?) Shirley went off with a happy little spring in her step and left the rest of us on our own. I hate it when they do that. They have no idea about the rules of the pack. You are supposed to stay together with the leader either at the front watching for trouble or at the back for a similar reason. My humans usually keep me in the middle and then despite my objections one of them wanders off! Margaret was not only unconcerned about this infringement of the rules, she was positively jaunty. When we got back to the car I found out what was going on. Coffee and cake! They had found a place to buy themselves treats and sat right there in the car eating them without any concern about two starving canines in the boot.
Morning walks are different to afternoon walks. It’s taken me to this great age to realise that they take it in turns to come out to play in the mornings. Most days the one who stays at home does this dastardly trick where all smell of dog is removed from the carpet with the machine. That thing is my only true enemy. It roars like a beast and sucks up everything in its path. I am terrified that they will forget to put their glasses on and suck me up in it so if I get the chance I run after it barking and biting it furiously. Poppy, who doesn’t seem to recognise the danger just sleeps through the whole attack. The humans have learned about the mortal danger to small dogs of the machine from me and my superior intelligence and now they usually only play with it when I’m out.
Now that the sun has come out and it isn’t snowing any more, the morning walk often involves walking down into the town and playing in the park beside the Abbey or even better beside the river. I get a bit tired these days and my back legs shake if I do too much so the girls have worked out a way to make this exciting new walk possible. One of them walks us down the road and then, when I’ve had enough walking and playing, the other one stops playing with the machine and drives down to get us. It’s a bit like magic. I get tired, a message passes up the hill by that mysterious thing I think they call Whatsup and then the car appears. At this point I need to explain that it wasn’t my fault when I tried to get in the wrong car. How am I supposed to tell the difference? To be fair there was a rather nice looking springer spaniel in the back of the car already so they wouldn’t have minded taking me home I’m sure. It certainly wasn’t my mistake when I thought they’d forgotten to bring the car and I tried to get on a bus. I know for a fact you can get on buses to go home because I’ve heard humans talking about it.
My last bit of news has a very happy ending but it didn’t start well. This afternoon they got the dog clippers out. I did say that the machine is my only known enemy but that was because I’d forgotten about the clippers. They are also my enemy. Today they came out and I slipped quietly from the room whistling innocently. Imagine my surprise when I heard the clippers going and came back in to see Margaret clipping Shirley around the ears and the back of her head. This apparent act of violence was a complete mystery to me. I’d heard them complaining about looking like shaggy dogs but they are mistaken. What dog has so little hair, except of course a Chinese Crested? I thought about this whilst hiding under the dining table but it was no good. Their behaviour is a mystery. They voluntarily clipped each other’s hair, said a lot of sorry words and giggled a lot. Humans are weird, you can’t deny it, but the happy ending was that I didn’t get attacked by the clippers and I’m still alive to tell the tale even though they used the machine to clean up the hair.