Sounds like a tenuous link. A sharpei dog, and a 71 year-old famous American actor. What could they possibly have in common? It will all be made clear…
Yesterday started well. The sun was exceptionally bright, and a sharp frost gave a crispness to everything too. I was enthused to do some housework, and as I knew that we had arranged to eat out at the local Thai restaurant that evening, I was looking forward to that too.
Ollie almost finished me off though. During one spell of cleaning, I was on a small step ladder in the bathroom. This allows me to reach across the corner bath, and clean the tiles at the point where they meet the ceiling. Despite telling Ollie to stay on his bed, his desire to be close to me had overruled his obedient nature. I was unaware that he had crept into the small bathroom, and stationed himself at the bottom of the ladder. As I came down backwards, I had one foot on the far edge of the bath, and the other on a ladder step. Moving that leg to the floor, I connected with Ollie’s furry back, to my great surprise. He tried to get up, throwing me off balance. The other leg slipped inside the clean and shiny surface of the bath, and I ended up doing a very undignified version of ‘the splits’. Only fractions of an inch away from certain hip dislocation, I managed to save myself by grabbing the edge of the sink as I fell. Ollie had seen all this, and by the time I recovered, he was sitting quietly on his bed, with an innocent expression.
When I had calmed down, and finished off what I was doing, I got ready to take him out for a walk. Still bright and sunny at 2pm, it was bitingly cold though, so I wrapped up well. At weekends, his normal gang of doggy playmates have other agendas, and we rarely see them. So, after a quick tour of The Meadows, we headed off to Hoe Rough. It has been very muddy over there recently, but the two days of cold has hardened much of the walk into a crisp and crunchy path. Most of the ground and surrounding vegetation was still white with frost, but despite the chill in the air, it was bracing, and most enjoyable. The wider open space of Hoe Rough is always a joy for Ollie. He scampers around, sniffing like mad, and breaking into seemingly pointless mad dashes. There is a main central path, and two circular routes, that run alongside the river, or into the woods on the other side.
We had completed the main path, and started to walk at the side of the river, on the more overgrown section. Ollie was sniffing around some bushes, when I saw what looked like another brown dog, about fifty feet ahead of us. Not much larger than Ollie, it looked to be on its own, and I could see no person that might have been walking with it. As it raised its head, I saw immediately that it was a deer. It was young, possibly a juvenile Roe Deer. As it spotted us, it took off, heading east towards the woods. There was a good five hundred yards of open scrub-land to cover first, and Ollie had noticed the movement. Needing no second bidding, he scampered off in pursuit of the hapless herbivore. Although he is not from a fast breed of dog, and his stocky frame is better suited to things other than running, he can certainly get up a speed, when he is inclined to do so.
The deer was visible by its fluffy white tail, which appeared at intervals above the bushes and plants. It was not running as such, rather bouncing, as if it was using hidden trampolines to make its escape. Despite his determination, poor Ollie was having to run five steps to every bounce of the deer, so had little chance of catching it. I doubt he would have harmed it, and probably saw the whole thing as a great game of chase. They were soon out of my sight. I started off in the general direction, but it was heavy going on mounds of turf, and through sharp brambles, in clumsy wellington boots. Peering into the distance, I could hear Ollie yelping in frustration; his inability to catch the animal had caused him to howl like a hound. I spotted the white tail, just in vision; it raised high above the undergrowth, as the deer leapt the wire fence into nearby private land.
It took me a good five minutes to find my dog. By the time I got to the fence, he was off trying to find another way in. After lots of calling and whistling, he appeared, frothy-faced, and panting hard. This was not going to be his day to catch up with a deer, but he had tried his best, and had some very good exercise as a result.
Like Robert De Niro’s character in ‘The Deer Hunter’, he had learned respect for his prey.