On Friday, Ollie had a visit to the dog groomer. He emerged looking in tip-top shape; with a shiny coat, a sweet smell, and nicely clipped nails. The marks we called crop circles are beginning to fill in with fur that is re-growing, so his appearance is the best it has been for some weeks. As we have a lot of visitors on Monday, and at other times over the Christmas period, we decided to try to keep him nice and clean, at least for the next few days. It is an effort to keep him looking so good once he is out and about in the mud and water, so I decided on a change of venue today, a place with no stream or large puddles.
He has been to the recreation ground near the village hall many times before, though not recently. The playing fields are deserted at this time of year, and the nearby woodland is ideal for his preferred antics of sniffing a lot, and chasing rabbits. The absence of standing water doesn’t guarantee to keep him completely clean, but at least he is unable to jump in and get soaked. On the downside, he is unlikely to encounter any of his gang of dog pals, so I have to try to keep him amused by spotting imaginary squirrels and rabbits, sending him off in pursuit of the non-existent.
There were some workmen over there today, cutting up and chipping a fallen tree, so he was none too happy with the noise that made. Nonetheless he persisted, scrabbling around the carpet of dry leaves covering the ground, and rushing towards any sound. Those sounds were mainly made by male pheasants, who flapped off angrily as he disturbed them, squawking in alarm. He investigated the main pathways, and some of the unbeaten tracks too, until we arrived at the large open space, where the football and cricket pitches proved to be devoid of players, as expected. He scanned the area intently, hoping to find other dogs, but to no avail. In the absence of partners in crime, he began to rush around madly, as if playing a game that existed only in his dog brain.
I sat on a swing for a moment, noticing that it was getting dark quite rapidly. I decided to make tracks for home, a walk of almost twenty minutes. As we neared the path again, a black Labrador appeared, running at speed towards Ollie. It was Strudel, an occasional playmate. Strudel’s owner is a leading theatrical agent in London, and only returns to Norfolk, her husband and her dog, at weekends. We chatted about Christmas plans, colds and coughs, and parties in London, as the dogs took off in a frenzied chase. They were obviously pleased to see each other, and continued the game for some time, each taking the lead to be chased and caught. After some ten minutes of this they looked pretty tired, and I said my farewells, continuing on my journey home.
When we got back, Ollie was soon dozing in the warm. I was thankful that Strudel had turned up.