Today was supposed to be very warm, and it was. More humid than sunny, but good enough for getting on with cutting the grass, tidying the garden, and for washing to dry on the line. So, the morning was busy, and Ollie decided to forego his normal extended sleep, and joined me outside. He likes to stand exactly where I need him not to be, as I always worry that he will fall foul of the powerful rotary blade on the Flymo. As a result, he is constantly on the move, wearing himself out with continuous pacing, stopping occasionally to nibble the longer pieces of grass that I haven’t got to just yet. Once the grass was cut front and back, it was time to sweep up, and clear up all the small cuttings that were flung around by the hover action. This bores Ollie, so he wanders around looking sorry for himself, and sometimes brings me a toy, in the hope that I will abandon my sweeping to play with him.
When it was time to put the rotary drier back in place, and hang out the washing, he was rushing around, pretending that I was chasing him, even though it was obvious that I wasn’t. When I went back inside, he thought it must surely be time to get out and about. But of course it wasn’t, as I had to have a bath, and get changed ready for the walk.
By 2 pm, he was raring to go, and as I picked up my keys and his lead, he turned in circles, unable to contain his excitement any longer. Once over at Beetley Meadows, the warm air and prospect of meeting other dogs set him into more mad running, and he dashed back and forth, searching for any of his playmates who might be in the area. But we were alone, so I headed off over to Hoe Rough, to give him more to explore.
I have never hunted animals. I have fired various guns in my time (at gun clubs) but never at anything living. I have no problem with hunting to survive, as is necessary in remote areas of the world, though I have always been uneasy about hunting for ‘sport’. Since moving to Norfolk, I have seen many examples of birds being shot. Locally, next to the plum orchard, there is a well-established game shoot, and local farmers will also shoot wood pigeons and crows, to keep them from the crops. I have no desire to join in with these rural pursuits, or to own a shotgun, as many do here.
As you know, Ollie is a Shar-Pei, not a breed known for hunting game. They were originally bred in China as fighting dogs, to be wagered on by gamblers. Perhaps because he has only ever known life in Norfolk, Ollie has decided to buck the trend. Over at Hoe Rough today, he suddenly rushed into the scrub grass, and seconds later, a large male pheasant took off, shrieking noisily. The bird’s magnificent plumage stood out from the plain grass, like a stained-glass window against the drab interior of an old church. Ollie continued to zig-zag, and soon more birds were taking off, all pheasants. In the space of ten minutes, he had ‘put up’ five male pheasants, and four female birds. Only the sound of other dogs splashing in the river diverted him from his bird-hunting.
He has obviously missed his canine vocation. Now, where’s that shotgun?