Thursday, 31 December 2009

Friday, 25 December 2009

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The wooden hill

It won’t come as any surprise to learn that by this stage Bingley can trot up a set of stairs with absolute and unhesitating ease. Several of our daily walks take us up or down flights of long steps which he never balks at; and whilst in York we got caught out by the flooding and, having to change the walk we’d planned, we found ourselves having to negotiate some very steep steps up onto the old city walls. Bing handled that one with absolute, though cautious, equanimity.

You’d think then, that those early days when he shied away at the mere sight of a set of steps would be a distant memory by now; but instead we’re reminded of them every day.

Bingley still can’t climb up our own staircase! Instead he’ll put his front paws on the second tread and forlornly watch as we disappear upstairs. In his favour I should add that these days, after we’ve turned onto the landing and disappeared from his sight, he’s at least stopped trying to follow us by running into the kitchen to see where we’ve gone!

I should also mention that our stairs are especially steep, uncarpeted, and painted a deep lighthouse green. Very nautical and nice to look at (though they need a new coat of paint, especially on the bottom treads where Bingley’s front paws have tap danced away much of the paint) but to Bingley they probably resemble a cliff face.

That bottom-step tap dance is about as close as he gets to climbing upstairs. Instead he’ll patiently wait until one of us makes an appearance, then he’ll leap up and do a version of an enthusiastic Mexican Wave as we come downstairs again.

His reserves of patience aren’t vast, of course. If he thinks we might be getting ready to go out for a walk, he’s happy to wait but not for long. If we look downstairs at that point we’ll just see two big paws and a muzzle peeping around the lounge doorway, as he lies there waiting.

But if we’re taking too long about things, I have to say that we’ll get a reminder that he’s there. He rarely barks these days; instead we’ll hear a barely audible whine as tries to tell us that we’re being too slow. These Bing chimes remind me of those early days when he was practising his khöömei; it’s like having a little wind harp in the hallway.

Being mercenary we haven’t helped him to realise that he could bound up our staircase in a couple of leaps. Though we love being with him, it’s still nice to have part of the house as a Bing-free zone. And anyway, going back down that glassy staircase would be treacherous for somebody who doesn’t have non-slip footwear.

Still, it can only be a matter of time before the penny drops and we hear those paws pounding along the landing. Safety aside, I must admit that I long for that time. A Bing-free zone is all well and good, but I miss him even when he’s just downstairs.