Sunday, 11 December 2011

An atypical start

I was hoping to start with an introduction to the usual route that we take on our little perambulations but yesterday we were anything but typical. For a start we normally get ourselves out at some point in the morning, but that didn't happen. I probably could have got out sooner but there were other things on like tidying the house ready for Christmas, so our patient pooches had to make do with the back door being opened for them periodically.

When Cath got in, things were starting to look bleak on the walkies front, as we all settled down to vegetate. I think it was the vegetating that led to a decision to go and get a meal from the chippy and rather than take the car we could walk the dogs.

Normally our walk starts off in the direction of this particular chip shop and then turns away to go in a big loop back to the beginning. If we had attempted this walk we would still have two highly strung and decidedly unexercised lurchers to keep in check while we waited for food and then the food would have cooled down too much by the time we completed the walk.

So instead we went for an occasional route which would let them have time off the lead before we got to the chippy. We stayed on our side of the A1 and walked through the estate to a footbridge which would take us into the Dene at a point well below our usual crossing point - at the furthest point away from home on our usual walk. This meant that we still had the full length of the Dene to walk before we got to the chippy.

It was dark when we set out, so we dug out the flashing collars, to find that all but one had dead batteries. Rover was selected for the honour of wearing the collar of red flashes and we set off. The dogs were puzzled when we missed the usual turn but this walk was not without precedent so we proceeded on our way.

There is a very good reason why we rarely go this way and that reason is feline. Although we love our lurchers to bits, they really are not the brightest of dogs. Excellent memories but lousy cognitive ability. If they have ever seen a cat in a particular place, they are convinced they will see it again the next time they go that way. And the next time. And the next time. They are very tense and excited when they go on a normal walk but this seems to be nothing compared to the anticipation of seeing a cat. This street has had numerous cat sightings over the years so there are a lot of memories overlapping each other and they basically look for a cat at every gate and every turn. This is not a fun experience.

Nevertheless we survived the street with only a single cat being sighted and we agreed that it was not nice to chase cats, so we reached the bridge in one piece. This particular bridge leads directly into the Dene so as soon as I can see clearly into the grassy area at the top I will unleash the hounds. I have one rule when it comes to letting them run and that is that I will not let them go if they tug to be away before they are unleashed. As Amazon had actually been behaving herself, I was about to release her when she tugged, so I left her waiting and let Rover off. By this time Cath had let Holly off, so she did her strange chasing thing. Amazon got off the lead fractionally after Holly, so she paused long enough to let Holly get onto Rover's tail before setting off at a dainty run which changed to a sprint as she reached the open grass and she could get away from Holly.

Holly has a fascination with chasing Amazon. She will chase Rover too but Amazon is more fun. Rover just runs very fast and gets clear, leaving Holly breathless and trotting back to us as if she had really achieved something. Amazon, however, reacts to the chase. She will pretend that she is not in a hurry, glance back at us, trot around in circles, anything but let herself be chased. Last night she got a clean break away from Holly and could run as fast as she liked. Holly gave a desultory "Worra Worra Worra!" and trotted back to us.

The Dene has some lighting but it is not exactly extensive, so we promptly lost track of our little hunters. Even Holly kept trotting off away from the path. I think that they get a completely different feel and smell to the place when it's dark, so even familiar places become more exotic. Occasionally we would see the flash of Rover's night collar or Holly would appear to trot along with us but we might as well have been walking alone.

At length we reached the top end of the Dene which is a bus terminus and well lit. As if by magic the three dogs reappeared. There was a brief bit of confusion as we did not leave by the gate that they were expecting because we had yet to walk the extra 200m or so to the chippy.

I waited outside with the dogs while Cath bought our suppers. An old friend known as Mel stopped for chat. He was on his way to town where he DJ's at a rock night at a pub we used to frequent when we were all  much younger. I think he referred to it as LYH which I think is Legendary Yorkshire Heroes, which used to be the name of an off-license from the same period of time (the Eighties if you must know).

We said goodnight and wandered back with the food. Holly seemed extra inquisitive regarding every bump or discarded wrapper. Cath thinks it was because she could smell the chips and was becoming conviced that everything she could see was unclaimed chips. Holly is an expert at snaffling food from the ground and it can be quite a challenge keeping her nose out of a discarded kebab or bag of chips. Nothing was forthcoming for her, however; even the Bridge of Food let her down. The Bridge of Food is a feature of our Usual Route that Holly loves because she often finds food there. I will probably have more to say about another time on Lurcher Tails

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