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Sometimes, when I get missives from home, I wonder if The Dogs haven’t just taken over. There really do seem to be more of them that humans at this point.

When I am in residence at The Mom’s, I am tasked with walking one, two, or three of them, and whilst The Mom is brave enough – or stupid enough, hard to tell sometimes – to try and get all of the Hounds in Residence out together, I am not. Well, actually, I’d try if I could, but the minute it looks like I might even be considering such a thing, the hammer falls.

“I see where you’re going with that,” The Mom will say. “But remember what happens to people in this house who try to be efficient.”

She’ll pause and give me a knowing look as I think back to probably an hour ago when someone had to go to the grocery store for the fifth time to get the thing we actually needed but hadn’t remembered as we were trying to be efficient and tie said errand into a pile of other ones including but not limited to: returning the library books (and if it’s The Mom, paying the fines), picking up a prescription, going to the gym, the acupuncturist, doing some shopping and meeting a friend for coffee.

“But,” I’ll say. “We’re only just going for a pee and a poo.”

“Ah,” The Mom will say with a hint of wisdom about her. “You forget. The big one poos quickly, The Pig requires at least a turn around the block if not further, and Mr Pants will get so excited he’ll forget he even has to go, so you’ll wind up circling the airport, so to speak, for quite some time. He’s easily distracted at the best of times, but give him a partner in crime, or two, and it’s game over.”

“It’s fine, I could use a bit of a walk myself.”

If it’s winter, Crazy D might shake his head in utter disparagement. “You’re going to go for a longish walk in that coat? You’ll have frostbite before The Pig’s bowels even get going.”

There is no reason at all for me to have a winter coat suitable for Canada since a) I live in England and b) rarely go outside in winter.

“Fine, I’ll borrow one of The Mom’s. She has an entire closet devoted to coat collecting.”

“Boots? You remember those, don’t you?” he’ll opine. “We wear them in snow and ice. You’ll find they work better than old Converse high tops.”

“I’ll borrow L’il Sis’.”

“She’s out. In her boots.”

“Surely there must be an old pair.” And off I’ll scamper to the mudroom, returning with a pair of her old boots that have no treads, and a hole in the heel. “Look, these will do just fine.”

“You do have osteoporosis,” The Mom will say, brow furrowing. “I do not want a repeat of the broken wrist. Come to think of it, if you take all three of them at the same time, you’re basically asking to be killed in a matter of minutes. That’s it, this is not happening for you, I’m afraid.”

Discouraged, I’ll hang my head and pout. “Fine, they’re your bloody dogs, you walk them.”

“Nope, can’t, busy, gotta go,” and Crazy D will be off like a flash. Not that he doesn’t adore Mr Pants but there comes a time when walking him becomes exhausting – he is still a puppy and his energy is greater than all of ours combined.

“I’ve already taken The Pig and the big one out twice today,” The Mom will say, wilting into her wine glass. (Dog walking duty for me, falls just before dinner, halfway through Happy Hour.)

“No,” I’ll say in my best martyr voice. “I can do this. I have moved country, survived the tube, the trains in England and Scotland, gales, tornadoes and three university degrees. I have even moved country using public transportation, at rush hour and have survived. I can do this.”

And with that, I’ll scamper off to find the dogs’ leashes, harnesses, coats and other acoutrements. Which is where things get tricky. I don’t know how to dress them. When we were kids and had dogs, they had a collar and a leash. End of story. These dogs now have more shit than I do, which is saying something.

The Mom will have to help me get them dressed, and probably help me get dressed as the coat I’m likely to borrow from her has a broken zip and I can’t do it up myself. There’s a trick to it, apparently. I secretly think The Mom rather enjoys dressing me at nearly 40 years of age.

Once we are all dressed and saddled up, something like half an hour has passed, the dogs have got very anxious and I have lost the will to do anything.

“Right!” I’ll say, addressing the troops. “This is the plan. We go down to the mailbox. Big one, that is your cue. Your shit is the worst, and so you’d do the foul deed and I can put it right in the bin. Piggie, you’re next. We’ll turn the corner, you can snuffle for rabbits and whilst you’re in the bushes, do your business. Eat it or bury it, I care not. Now, Mr Pants, as for you, just remember to expel something form your innards. Onwards!”

And off we’ll go. By the time we make it to the mailbox, which The Mom has a full and uninterrupted view of, I’ll probably be in a snowbank, having be tripped and tangled by all the dog leads. Thankfully, the Big One is resourceful and knows her way home. It’s not unlike Lassie in that when she turns up at the door unattended and I’ve set off for a walk with them all, everyone at home knows something has gone terribly wrong.

Hence the queuing system, which, upon reflection is not a bad idea at all.

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