Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Bing and I

Jane was away visiting her mum in North Wales last weekend, so it was another episode of the Bing & Bob show here at Fireside Park. Not that we went on the road to anywhere, it was just a cosy bit of boys world.

Bingley and I are used to being left alone: Jane’s usually out at work all day, and I’m not. Still, four days is longer than eight hours so I had plenty of distractions lined up for Bing. Could he be aware of ‘four days’? I don’t think so: as far as he was concerned Jane was just out at work for longer than usual; though I’m pretty certain that Jane’s glad that her workdays don’t last four times as long (even though they sometimes feel that way!).

The weather was cold, but very bright and sunny and I had a couple of long rambles planned. And for the time indoors I had some new drive-me-mad squeaky bones from Wilkinsons in stock, as well as a new ball. Perfect.

Or at least it would have been if I hadn’t managed to twist my back out of kilter on the first day. I do this every now and again; not deliberately, but often enough to know that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Saturday wasn’t too bad. The Bing & I went for a nice long walk and we even managed a bit of Bingball along the way; and in the evening I let him wear the squeak out of his drive-me-mad squeaky bone.

By Sunday however I could hardly bend over, so our morning ramble was more of a hobble as far as I was concerned. A couple of Bugsy McTugsy moments, along with some very icy footpaths, didn’t help my back and by Monday I could barely reach down to clip on his lead.

The return of Nurse Jane was therefore eagerly awaited. But her prescription turned out to be a bit of a shock: absolutely no dog walking until my back was feeling better! Good advice, I’m sure; but I’ve walked Bingley every day for over a year. More to the point, Bingley has been walked by me every day for over a year and I was unsure about how he might react to this sudden change in our routine.

But I needn’t have worried: he’s been an absolute sweetheart. I’ve been told that dogs will pick up on our feelings and respond accordingly, and I really do think that there must something in that. On the first day when I hobbled downstairs and gingerly lowered myself into the armchair with a groan, Bingley just stood there and watched me with, I have to say, a very serious expression on his face. Then instead of bumping my knees with an assortment of toys (something which he usually continues to do until I give in) he came over and gave me one of his intense looks.

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned these ‘looks’ before, but every now and again Bingley will come and stand in front of me and look me in the eyes with such striking directness that it’s almost unsettling. I thought that animals were always meant to be the first to break eye contact; but Bing & I will gaze at each other in this way for a long time before one of us moves. I wish he could talk.

However, on the day when I was sitting in the armchair with a sore back Bingley was the first to move. He came over, lay down by my feet and, with one paw and his chin on one of my slippers, simply went to sleep.

In fact, and this is very unusual, he hasn’t pestered me to take him out for a walk all week. He’s watched me when I’ve gone downstairs, but he really has appeared to understand that I can’t play with him and that he won’t be going out until Jane returns home from work. Instead he’s been quite happy to spend most of the time quietly sleeping on the kitchen sofa; he hasn’t even fallen off!

Today Jane’s gone down to London with her good friend Wendy; she left the house very early, won’t be back until late this evening and won’t be able to take Bingley for a walk. But thankfully my back is less painful and I’m feeling more like my usual self. Bingley of course picked up on this change immediately and, abandoning all of his sympathy, switched into take me for a walk mode.

Unfortunately the weather is awful, both in London and here; I was happy to go for a walk but by the time I returned home I was very wet, very muddy and very cold.

The next time it's raining and Bingley's demanding a walk, I’m tempted to try putting a hand on the small of my back and groaning. I’ll let you know what happens!

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