Sunday, 23 September 2012


It was meant be a quick saunter down the cliffs at Whitsand Bay and I had intended on only taking the one dog but as I opened the front door and beeped open the boot of our Multipla, my bequeathed dog ran through my legs, hopped down the front door steps and up into the boot. Eagerly. I could hardly drag him out and lock him up in an empty house, especially when the golden retriever was sitting there as large as you like. The saunter down was without incident. The little dog did not keep up with mine and Mags’s but was happy to go at his own pace. He is very old after all. Eventually, he and I reached the beach. The tide was out and Mags and the other two dogs had walked out to where little waves were gently lapping on the shore. The sky and sea were indiscernibly blue. There were few people on the beach and miles and miles of golden, ribbed sand. It seemed criminal to think that our children were sitting in lessons and not cavorting with the dogs. As we were. “Can you still do one of these?”, screeched Mags, running ahead of me before throwing her hands onto the sand and turning a cartwheel. “What the hell do you mean, can I still do one?”, I shouted back, “I’ve never been able to do one”. “Come on it’s easy”, and she did another and another. I continued to walk decorously. “Bendiness is not one of my plus points”, I called back. My golden retriever was by now out of his mind with excitement. What with Mags frolicking, the wide open space, cool water and other dogs to play with it was, well it was driving him nuts. He woofed and he woofed and he woofed, darting into the sea, snapping at the waves, diving under them, before coming back to find me once again to woof some more and shake his shaggy coat all over me. “Push off!”, I said sternly, but his excitement was infectious and what started as gentle paddling in millimetres of water, soon became a wade in knee high sea. My leggings couldn’t be persuaded to be rolled up any further though, so, I looked around, found no one to shock and then ripped them off. Mags was walking further along the beach, every now and then her gait interrupted by another cart wheel. “I’ll show her who’s young at heart”, I said to my dog, and removing my tunic and flinging it onto dry sand, I ran further out to sea before, with a deep breath, I submerged my body, apart from my hair of course, under the waves. The dog was ecstatic. He swam around and around, circling me like a highly-strung shark. Mags, when she turned around to look for me, was dumbfounded. “You’ll catch your bloody death”, she called. “Less chance of breaking a hip in here”, I provoked, “Come in, it’s lovely once you get over the shock”. She walked over and allowed the tiniest of ripples to wash over her feet before she squealed and retreated back onto warm sand. “You must be joking. It’s arctic. I’ll stay here.” And the dear old thing stooped to pick up my discarded garments and stood very loyally waiting for me to get my first dip of the year out of my system. I wasn’t long. Wallowing in the shallows at Whitsand Bay is not quite the same as the wallowing in the Med. Especially in May. I hid behind a rock to peel off my sodden knickers and bra and Mags very gallantly lent me her cardigan to rub dry my wet skin. It was 2.40pm, time to drag ourselves back up the cliff and collect the children from school. Her dog and my dog raced ahead of us. After one hundred yards, it dawned on me that the old dog wasn’t with us. “Did he run past us?”, I asked Mags. “I don’t think so”, she replied. We both turned around and looked down the cliff and scanned the beach. There he was, walking away with another family. “Oh hell”, I said, “He’s lost me”. Both Mags and I ran back down the cliff calling him all the way. By the lifeguard hut, we whistled even louder and waved and flapped our arms and my dripping bra. He wasn’t that far away. Not for a dog anyway. Most dogs would have looked up by now. Hell, other people’s dogs were running to us to see what all the fuss was about. “Jakey!”, I called, “Jake-ee”, to no avail. “Jesus, it’s like taking Helen Keller out for the day”, I said, “He must have contracted German measles as a puppy, he is utterly blind and deaf”. At last, a very kind man lassoed him for me and walked him over. Dear old Jakey, as soon as I patted him, he seemed to realise that he was safe, and eventually, after much heaving of chest, and stopping for catch-your-breath breaks, him not me, we made it back to the car in time to pick up the kids. Less than an hour later and I was at the vets, attempting to buy him a worming tablet. “This dog isn’t yours”, said the receptionist. “He is now, aren’t you?”, I said, smiling down at the dog, “His owner is in Abu Dhabi. He’s given him to me”. “We need proof”. “Proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the poo”, I replied. Blank. “Look, this dog isn’t in care. I am not asking for Ritalin. Just a pill to stop the worms”. They did what they could but he’s been subsequently allocated his very own social worker and his owner in Abu Dhabi has been granted unsupervised access. Just hope that I don’t have to go to the CSA to ensure regular maintenance. 24th May 2012

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