Saturday, 27 February 2010

Close encounters of the thud kind

It’s been a while since Bingley fell off the sofa with a somnambulistic thud, but I’m still worried about him!

He lives in the moment: a wonderful niche in time where’s there’s no past and no future, no thought of consequences and no planning ahead. For Bingley everything is simply now!

Sometimes I feel quite envious of his sheer unbridled immediacy; after all we’re always being advised to live for the moment and to make the most of today. But sometimes Bingley takes this advice too literally and gives absolutely no thought to what might happen next.

Labradors have a very high pain threshold; it’s one of the reasons why they make such great canine companions - they rarely complain about anything. But if you combine that stoicism with Bingley’s energy then you have a recipe for recklessness!

Bingley no longer falls off the sofa, but he’s forever banging into things when he’s dashing around. ‘Go get the ball, Bing’ is often followed by a thud as his head connects with the gate post, or the door jamb, or with one of the cupboard doors if we’re playing at home. Not that any of this stops him, he’s living for the moment and that particular moment involves only the ball: back he comes from his head thumping retrieval with an ‘I didn’t feel a thing’ look on his face.

But we don’t even have to be throwing things: I can’t tell you how many times he’s crashed into the baby gate as he dashes through to his room to get us one of his toys. Pad, pad, pad, *thud* (pause), pad, pad, pad, here’s a toy Rob, let’s play!

On this morning’s sudden and unexpected bum tuck, he crashed into the wall with such force that I thought he might bring down the house. But instead of stopping and saying ouch, I’d better not do that again, he simply jumped onto the sofa and started doing mid-air twists!

Live for the moment but with some thought about the consequences, is what I want to say to Bingley. But I doubt he’ll ever listen; for him the future means nothing and the past is gone. Who cares if a wall gets in the way? That particular moment is quickly replaced with the next, as he pushes the ball into my hand and waits for me to throw it back into the future.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The black Vera Wang

Bingley isn’t a nervous dog, but neither is he a laid back hound. There are times when a loud noise outside the house will make him leap up with an alert expression, as he watches the door; but there are other occasions when he’s oblivious to everything that’s happening outside or in. Sometimes when I reach down to stroke him as he’s sleeping, he’ll twitch as I make him jump; usually though, he’s so relaxed that he’ll just roll onto his back and invite me to rub his tummy.

I can’t account for these changes; they don’t seem to correlate with challenging training sessions or those occasional ‘time outs’ when he’s done something he shouldn’t. There was a great example of that a few moments ago, when he had a very good go at ripping down the blinds from the lounge window as he struggled to see who I was talking to on the doorstep. I was chatting with the postman who was delivering a book which I’m hoping will teach me, amongst other things, how I can stop Bingley from jumping up. Oh, the irony!

A history of unfortunate events might account for those twitchy times, but he hasn’t had that many unpleasant encounters. He was attacked by another dog once; but, if you remember, that was a couple of years ago. Still, who knows how dogs are affected by things like that? The only other unfortunate event which I can recall was the time he was chased by a black bag!

That one took place during Bingley’s back yard days (cue: going back in time music)…

…at that stage, rather than a big blue car, the back yard was full of plant pots and little adventures. Bingley wasn’t much bigger than one of those plant pots and would happily ramble amongst them like the world’s greatest hunter. That first summer was long and hot, and Bingley and I would always make sure that we were out in the back yard when Jane returned home from work. The two of us would then sit on the bench and talk about our day and Bingley would crash out on his favourite pair of slippers.

There was one evening however when things took a very different turn. Jane had returned home from work as usual; we had a cup of tea and a chat on the bench and then came inside to start cooking our evening meal. The back yard was safe and secure and Bingley was always quite settled out there, so we had no misgivings about leaving him alone as he pottered around.

I don’t think that I’ll ever forget Bingley’s squeal of absolute terror as it shattered that evening’s peaceful tranquillity! Tearing out of the house, I really did wonder what I was going to find! But fortunately instead of some dreadful injury, I found myself looking at a little Bing who’d gotten himself entangled in the handle of Jane’s shoulder bag.

She’d dropped it by the bench when she came home from work and neither one of us had given it another thought. Bingley must have started to rummage in it and then somehow managed to get the handle caught around his waist. The bag was heavy and followed him across the yard as he tried to get away, dragging it behind him; then it snagged on something and suddenly there was no escape. The black bag had got him.

That cry for help received an immediate response and we were able to dash out and rescue him from the terrifying clutches of this strange attacker; but who knows what kind of psychological trauma it may have caused!

I have to say that he still likes nothing better than having a good rummage in Jane’s bag once she’s arrived home or as she’s getting ready to go out. But people who say that dogs don’t form long term associations are wrong. A few weeks after the bag incident I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my lunch. It was a warm day and I’d been working in the garden, so I left the front door open. As I sat there munching my sandwich I happened to look over at the doorway and saw, much to my surprise, a black cat sitting in the hallway peering back at me with a quizzical expression. Bingley spotted the interloper seconds after I did and immediately plodded over to investigate this newcomer. The cat of course scarpered straight away, but two years later Bingley still does a black cat check of the hallway whenever he first comes into the lounge! I’m sure he’s hoping that one day it’ll be there again.

Perhaps black cats and black bags are haunting Bingley’s dreams as he lies there twitching in his sleep? Maybe those are the days when he’s seems slightly more apprehensive about his surroundings? I have to say though that more often than not, he’s happy to continue throwing his whole body into the unknown with energetically unbridled enthusiasm. On those days, the past, with all of its worries, can just go and take care of itself!