Today is so mild I had to undo my coat when I took Dennis for a walk. Spring is definitely in progress: daffodils, narcissus, hazel catkins and the dark green leaves of bluebells. On Aston’s Eyot I saw monkshood just beginning to unfurl from tight, lime coloured cones an inch or two above the earth under the hawthorns.
Aston’s Eyot was a dump in Victorian times. They deposited everything from medicine bottles and bits of pottery to exotic plants. I once found a solid silver spoon in a jam jar – perhaps a child had been scraping out the last of the jam and threw the spoon away with the empty jar by mistake. Today I spotted a beautiful section of chamber pot, an Art Nouveau design in blue and gold and coral on white china.
I wish people would clear up after their dogs though: or, if they do, would refrain from hanging the poo bags in the nearest bush or tree. Not sure about the biodegradable qualities of your average nappy sack or Sainsbury’s carrier.
We met horses on the path and Dennis decided, for once, that he wasn’t coming back when I called. Luckily they weren’t fazed by him and the riders were relaxed about it. Lots of squirrels and pigeons to chase. I wish he didn’t. He nearly caught a squirrel in the snow this winter: it was very slow, only just managing to get up a tree before he reached it – probably torpid because of the cold. They ought to be hibernating, but our winters have been generally so mild over the last twenty years or so that they seem to remain active all year. Anyway, I don’t want him to catch them, partly because it doesn’t do to encourage the chase instinct in border collie cross type dogs (they’ve been known to get themselves killed pursuing cars), partly because I don’t want the squirrels mauled, not least because they could deliver him a nasty facial injury, and lastly because we have five cats and I think a running cat can look perilously like a squirrel to an excitable dog.
Mostly Dennis’s chase instinct has been channelled into rocketing after a tennis ball. It’s his drug, his fix, better even than leaping into puddles, streams and stagnant creeks. This activity has been banned from the house though, after the advent of deep claw marks on the wooden floors and the smashing of a lamp. In fact it’s this collie excitability that I am finding it hard to adjust to. Salukis, my previous breed, are laid back, reserved and cat-like. Collie crosses are in your face, huffle-puffle, pant, scurry, take notice of me. They want to interact with you constantly and they go from quiet to hyper in seconds. On the other hand, it is lovely to have a dog who comes when he’s called instead of disappearing into the next county in pursuit of a dot on the horizon a mile away.
Dennis looks like a little black wolf whereas Inka, my Saluki bitch who died five years ago, was gazelle-like. Both beautiful in their different ways.