Dad goes on a lot of walks these days. This is great for his heart and fitness, but while I am pregnant I am reminded of those days when I could never keep up with him, when my legs were too short and my curiosity had not been awakened enough.
He says that he often sees dogs with their owners out on walks, and they often give him funny looks. The dogs, I mean.
‘Why,’ they quiz him, ‘would you go out on a nice walk without a dog? What is the point of that?’
Maybe there is no dog etiquette for meeting lone walkers. Are you allowed to smell? Should you stare? Is it wrong to bark?
We got talking about dogs on a walk on Sunday afternoon. Maybe he should get one, so that the dogs he meets don’t stare. Dad is very aware of nature and changes in the wildlife on his walks, so it is no surprise that he can read a dog’s face. For example, the birds have gone past the season of singing, now that pairing off and rearing young have happened for the year. Now they are just putting on weight for winter. But other senses are awakened in those daily walks: the exploding colours of berries and hanging webs.
It got me thinking – would it be such a bad thing if mum and dad did get a dog? It would be a companion, a walking buddy, a thing to mother and a special treat for grandchildren to visit. They already have a 12-year old cat, Charlie. Charlie would cope.
I love it when dad tells me the story of Smudge and Rex, the cat and dog they had as teenagers. Smudge was around first, so as well as being top-cat was also top-dog in the pecking order. Apparently Rex would allow Smudge to eat the best bits of his dinner (the meat), before he got the biscuits. Dogs are great like that. I wonder what kind of dog would suit mum and dad? Something loyal and not too yappy, I imagine.