A Dog Called Pepper
In any sort of club, I think there’s always someone who’s been there forever and likes to have a say in everything that goes on. At the canoe club, this person is Neville. He’s been there almost from the start, has seen it through thick and thin and DEFINITELY likes to know about every little thing that’s going on. Last week, Neville and Peggy (Neville’s wife) had to look after their daughter’s dog – a beautiful black and white colly called Pepper. Neither Neville or Peggy were able to walk Pepper and so on Wednesday afternoon, I got a call asking if I would like to walk him until I went back to uni, and of course I said yes. So that was how, on Wednesday afternoon, Padraig and I found ourselves walking around the village with Pepper, the dog.
I was quite apprehensive – I’d never walked a dog before. I didn’t know the dog etiquette. Was it ok to let him wee against lampposts? Was it ok to let other people stroke him? How long should we walk him for? Thankfully, he’s quite an old dog and was very well behaved but there were a few places that he did NOT want to go. It might be down a narrow path, or the gateway into a field, but whenever he didn’t want to go any further he would completely stop and look up at you with huge puppy eyes until you gave up hope, at which point he would slowly turn around and head in the direction he wanted to go. (These aren’t even the full puppy eyes, these are just the, “Aren’t you READY yet?!” eyes, and look at them!).
After two changes in our planned route due to Mr. Pickey, we were running out of places we could take him and we discovered that if you actually start walking in the direction you wanted to go whilst giving a tug on the rope (Neville couldn’t find his lead), he generally followed you unless he really didn’t want to go. Well, that’s what Padraig found anyway. I obviously didn’t have the knack because every time I took the rope and he stopped I could NOT get him to move again. I tried the walk and tug trick, I tried whistling, I even tried pushing him from behind, but he would not budge. That would be when Padraig swooped in and took the rope, a little tug and a whistle and off he trotted.
We eventually headed into an area of wooded land and were quite enjoying our little walk when it happened. That’s right – Pepper did a doo doo. Which meant I had to do something I never thought I’d have to do do. Thankfully I’d come prepared with not only several bags, but a pair of old gardening gloves too – just in case. Pepper also managed to do the doo doo about the furthest possible point from a doggy bin, which meant we had to add on an extra 10 minutes to our walk to visit the Bin of Doom.
I got a bit nervous when the next time, Padraig was staying after school so it was down to me and my mum to walk Pepper. It’s not that we were scared or anything, just… well… we’re push overs and suckers for puppy eyes. Thankfully he didn’t refuse many of our routes and we had a really lovely walk up a long track that had lambs on either side to “Aww” and “Ah” at.
Each walk was followed by a cup of tea and a loooooong chat (mostly consisting of, “When I was in the RAF…”, or “When we lived in Germany…” etc etc. One of the things both Neville and Peggy reminisced about was liquorice torpedo sweets and tom thumb drops that you could get for a quarter all wrapped up in a white paper bag. Well, my mum knew of ‘Ye Olde Sweete Shope’ in town, so the next morning before canoeing and dog walking, we nipped in and bought 100g each of liquorice torpedos, tom thumb drops and hum bugs. They weren’t wrapped up in white paper bags, but brown is close enough and both Neville and Peggy were absolutely delighted with them.
I actually really enjoyed walking Pepper for a few reasons. It was nice to go for walks and rediscover little bits of the village that we hadn’t been to in a while, despite it making our days very busy. It was nice to spend the time with Padraig and my mum, but most of all it was nice to do a nice thing. It wasn’t even really about walking the dog, it was about taking a little bit of time out of our days to give our friends some company. To give them someone to tell their favourite stories to. And to spoil them with liquorice sweets.