Well…that wasn’t quite the relaxing walk I’d imagined it might be!
The sun is shining, the air is mild – quite a surprise after yesterday’s grey, mizzly weather – so I decide to go for a walk. Just as I’m getting ready, my friend phones for a chat before she goes to work. I tell her I’m going for a walk and ask if Marvin and Roxy (their dogs) need a walk.
“Yes,” she says, “And the kids would like to go too.”
So I collect I. & F, plus Roxy (bulldog) and Marvin (Jack Russell cross) and off we go. I is in charge of the lumbering Roxy and F of Marvin (who has a tendency to run into gardens after cats, so when we pass certain houses he must be put back on the lead). Because I. doesn’t hold the lead tightly enough and allows it to droop, poor Roxy keeps getting her feet tangled in the lead, and has to be “stepped” out of the tangle around her legs.
We cross the main road (not that it is busy…one car goes past while we are there) and head down the country lane where it’s safe to let the dogs off the lead. F goes ahead with the bouncy Marvin while I. brings up the rear with Roxy, who has, once again, got her feet tangled up. But instead of “stepping” Roxy out again, I. decides to unclip the lead whereupon (most uncharacteristically) Roxy takes off down the middle of the main road – quite frankly, I’ve never seen her move so fast. I. chases after her, which means that I have someone elses’s dog and child risking life and limb in the path of oncoming traffic. Of course, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, there is nothing coming, but in my imagination a thirty ton log truck with an inattentive driver is hurtling round the next corner just ready to run over my friends’ precious younger child and dog.
Roxy is finally rounded up, I shriek at I. for a bit and then apologise for so doing when her lower lip begins to wobble. meanwhile F. has let Marvin off his lead whereupon he races into a garden to see what he can find. After several high-pitched squeals of “Marvin – come!” the small black-and-white blur comes running back for praise and cuddles.
We continue down the lane with some good natured (I trust) spats between brother and sister, interspersed with cries of “Marvin – come!” as he races off to explore the woods again. Roxy waddles along next to us, content to stay on the lead (although F insists she should be let off) but then happily finds some mud to paddle in. My friend had warned us that she liked mud, and I. had been charged with keeping Roxy out of the sticky brown stuff, but I. is a bit feather brained and had forgotten. In fact, she just found it amusing that Roxy ended up with mud-rimmed paws.
We return home, via the Champ des Foires a rough piece of rocky grassland above my friends’ house. As Marvin had been on the lead for quite a while, we decided to give him a run about up on the land to wear him out; we let him off the lead and, while we are keeping Roxy out of yet another muddy puddle, Marvin disappears.
“Marvin – come!” is shouted, in various degrees of intensity and at various pitches during the next ten minutes. I. takes Roxy home, and then stands in the middle of the path, aimlessly twirling Marvin’s chew-toy and whispering “twirly-whirly, Marvin come!” under her breath. I snap at her, thinking “Oh Lord, now I’ve lost their precious dog” and the lower lip wobbles again. F comes back, having retraced some of our walk, pleadingly calling
“PLEASE! Marvin – come…Please!”
Finally he has the brainwave that Marvin likes a certain corner of the village and runs off to see if he is there. Huzzah! Marvin is found, chewing chicken shit, and smelling to high heaven as he has also rolled in chicken shit. He is brought back, and, knowing he is in some kind of trouble, takes himself off to a corner of the garden to chew on the last stinky morsel that was caught between his teeth.
My friend has gone to work, and husband is busy on the computer.
“Just let him dry out in the sun” I am told “It can be brushed out later.”
So I give the dogs a bowl of water, remind I. , with a smile, that she is trouble (the bottom lip starts to wobble again. “But I didn’t do it on purpose” she wails) and, breathing a sigh of relief that finally no children or dogs were harmed i the making of this movie, I head home. At least I don’t have to deal with a dog that smells of chicken shit…