Dog tales

As we enter the ‘cold and windy’ part of the rainy season here in Somerset, it’s welly boots all round whenever we leave the house. Especially if we’re walking the dogs, as all of our normal walks are now several inches deep in the boggy stuff.

Pulling on my wellies for this morning’s trundle, I was reminded of a recent visit to one of my consulting clients, an agricultural college with a thriving community of farming and equestrian students. Arriving a little early for a meeting, I popped over to the campus cafe.

I was greeted by a huge pile of welly boots stacked up outside the door. Inside, a horde of students, clearly having just finished their early morning chores around the farm and stables, was drinking gallons of hot chocolate and steaming up the windows with their excited chatter.

* * *

Given that I wear them pretty much all day every day from October to April, I’ve become something of a welly boot connoisseur. I currently wear Aigle Parcours 2 boots, which are so, so comfy and great for walking. They’re almost as comfy as my hiking boots and much, much easier to clear.

Not that I do clean them, of course. They used to be green, I think, but they’re now a sort of nondescript brown colour. They’ve also lasted three years so far, which is a bit of a record. I used to get through a pair of wellies every year, as the soles would wear through.

So while my Aigles weren’t cheap, if I work it out in cost per walk, they’re faring pretty well. Hopefully, my current pair will last me through until at least the Spring. I’ll then have to decide whether to go for another pair of the same (I’m already on my second pair of them) or to return to Muck Boots, my previous favourite.

* * *

It was really windy on this morning’s walk, which means that the dogs inevitably lost all ability to concentrate. We joke that the wind whistles through their ears and jostles their brain cell, but this seems to be a phenomenon common to most dogs. I don’t know if it’s the riot of scents being blown at them or something else, but they definitely both go a bit loopy when the wind whips up.

Thankfully, I had a tennis ball with me (specifically, Ozzy’s favourite ‘Chuckit’ ball), which allowed us to bring some semblance of focus to proceedings. But who am I kidding; I always have a tennis ball about my person somewhere. Along with dog treats, my clicker-training clicker and about a dozen poo bags.

Molly likes to play with the ball as much as Ozzy does, but with slightly less in the way of manic zeal. She’s learned the hard way that, unless the ball lands right in front of her and she can grab it quickly, the safest thing to do is to step back, before Ozzy mows her down. Interestingly, though, if we take a frisbee instead, the roles are reversed completely.

* * *

Molly’s been a bit under the weather for the past couple of days, though she seems to have perked back up again now. Which has meant several meals of chicken and rice, which helps to calm her stomach. And Molly absolutely loves chicken and rice. As does Ozzy, of course, so they ended up both having some.

Neither Natalie nor I eat chicken (or meat in general), so as soon as I get back from the shop with a multipack of chicken breasts or skinless thighs, the dogs know that it’s for them and start to follow me around very closely. When I chop it up and zap it in the microwave, they sit and watch my every move like a pair of theatre critics. And once it’s delivered to them in their bowls, they set upon it like a pride of lions that hasn’t eaten all week.

Back when my mum had her border collies, one of them was a bit peaky one weekend. And so I suggested chicken as a way of getting him to eat something. She called me back a while later to ask whether she should serve it to him with anything. It turned out she’d roasted him an entire chicken and was wondering whether to provide an accompaniment of roast potatoes, carrots and gravy.

Although the dog in question is no longer with us, the thought of a slightly-poorly border collie unable to believe his luck at being served a Sunday roast still tickles me pink.

Got a favourite dog story of your own? I’d love to hear it. Ditto if you’d like to recommend some decent welly boots. Drop me a line or leave a comment below.

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