As the walking hour of 8 o’clock was approaching I headed downstairs to get dressed for our walk, Sandy was lying on the rug at the bottom of the stairs, eyes trained on the landing waiting for my appearance. As soon as he sees me he’s up on all four legs, tail wagging, ears pricked up and a look of feverish excitement in his eyes.
“Hi Sandy, you about ready to go?”
“Sure am Dad.”
“I’ll get my outdoor clothes on then we’re off.”
“Don’t be long Dad.”
In the cloakroom I start by putting on my winter boots, these are a bit fiddly to get on but are well worth it for their non slip soles and their ability to keep my, now aging, feet warm. Then my ski jacket, it really does the trick against the Scottish winter wind which slices through normal jackets. About this time Sandy starts whimpering, this loudens to squeaks and small barks – he’s getting fair excited at the prospect of a walk. I put on my gloves take up his lead and go out to catch him, yes catch him. The wee devil wants to go out but won’t stand still long enough for me to attach his lead, so we do a nightly dance round the hall with me trying to grab his collar and him running about like a daft thing. Eventually I get hold of him, put on his lead and with a parting “Back soon love.” we’re away.
When we get to the outside front door he’s literally bouncing up and down on his four paws, I open the door and out he lunges – not the best trained dog on the Drive, he’s a bit excitable. It takes a couple of minutes for him to calm down once we’re on the road but soon we’re walking along in amicable silence, until he says
“Dad, what takes you so long getting ready every night?”
I explain the need for winter weather gear but this puzzles him.
“I know you need it but why do you take so long?”
“Because it’s a small room and getting boots and a big jacket on isn’t easy.”
“I have to say Dad that to me you look a bit silly in all that gear.”
“I do, do I?”
“Yes you do.”
“You should be careful what you say, maybe I’ll get you a doggie coat.”
“Now Dad there’s no need for that kind of talk.”
“You mean you don’t want one?”
“You may look a bit silly in all your gear but nothing like as silly as those dogs that go about with coats on.”
“But it keeps them warm.”
“Dogs are warm, they don’t need extra padding, it just slows us down and, besides, makes us look dumb.”
“What about a bandanna for round your neck, just as a fashion accessory.”
“Aw come on Dad, every dog in the neighborhood would be laughing at me.”
“You shouldn’t care what other dogs think, you should follow your own sense of what’s right.”
“I do Dad and there’s a ban on any idea of a bandanna.”
We’re about half way in our ramble and start to head for home. Now we walk into the bitter wind, I hunch my shoulders while Sandy flattens his ears to his head and in this condition we soon arrive home. The routine is that when we get in, after I get changed again, for ours is a warm house, Sandy gets a few doggie treats in his yellow submarine – a yellow plastic contraption with a couple of holes in it. In this goes the treats then Sandy spends time trying to get them out of there and into his mouth, a game he enjoys hugely.
Coming out of the cloakroom we go through to the kitchen where I fill the submarine and give it to him. About an hour later I come down and Sandy is sound asleep in his bed.
“Hey lazy bones, what are you doing asleep this early?”
“I’m too warm Dad, so lay down for a nap.”
“It’s not that warm.”
“Maybe not to you but you’re walking about with almost nothing on, I’m wearing a fur coat.”
“I’m not sure I like the implication there Sandy, it seems to me you’re saying that everything is set up for us humans and that dogs are ignored.”
“No Dad, I’m saying you’re a selfish lot you humans.”
I was gobsmacked, “How did you get to that outlandish conclusion?”
“Well, let’s take tonight. You come down to take me out when it suits you, I get no say about whether the time is good for me, then you spend 5 minutes getting ready before going out and another 5 before I get my treats when we get home. When out you hold the lead and control where we go, how fast we walk and when to come home. I’m disenfranchised – there’s no vote for dogs is there? What’s more, when we are home the temperature is too high for me in a fur coat, everything is organised around you humans who wear next to nothing inside the house and ridiculous amounts of clothes outside. To cap it all you threaten to put me in some stupid doggie coat and make smart remarks when I fall asleep because I’m knocked out by the heat in here. It’s just another day to me Dad.”
Well …..he may have a point, I’ve never known him so tetchy but, no ready riposte coming to me, I maintain my dignity, pat him on the head and wander off for a glass of wine.