I find real catharsis in taking dogs on walks. This is because dogs effectively live to be walked. It’s all they ever want to do. From the moment you take a dog out of the house, it seems to explode with happiness, wagging its tongue, panting uncontrollably and immersing itself in every aspect of the journey. For this reason the dog walker feels like she is doing a good deed, and can see the results plainly in front of her in the form of an utterly contented beast. It isn’t like walking a human, where you have to maintain some kind of conversation, in fact, you’re perfectly free to stick your music in and forget they’re even there if you would like. Furthermore it provides an excuse to switch off the television, put the laptop away, get out of that door, get in and amongst the fields and the trees and experience Barrow Upon Soar’s rich tapestry of nature.
I got an opportunity to take my mother’s friend’s Jack Russells out yesterday and it turned out to be anything but cathartic. They weren’t her Jacks, they were her friend’s, who was out gallivanting on holiday in some sultry corner of the globe, presumably indulging freely in a bacchanalia of drugs, alcohol and sex. There were two dogs, one of them vivacious and young, the other one slow and whacked out like a family teddy bear out of the attic. I grabbed my stylish digital-camo sunnies, stuck the dogs on the lead and took them over to Millennium Park- a very pleasant recreational area near where I live, complete with a giant sun-dial to make telling time that little bit more convenient.
The walk was going perfectly well and to my satisfaction there were no rival dog walkers around to cause me any trouble. I was told by the owner that I could take the leads off the slow and whacked out Jack if I so wished- there would be no hazards there. I flirted with the idea for a while, at first thinking it too outrageous to go through with, but the dogs were so timid and well behaved and the concept of a lead is so authoritarian to me that I soon succumbed, and released both dogs from their tyrannical leashes.
At first the younger Jack scouted ahead, just within my range of vision. The older creature hung way back, moving at a slow pace. All of a sudden I had to turn my attention towards multiple directions at once as the dogs scattered all over the place. I was doing okay however, I could call the dog at the front and it would turn back and slow up for a few moments. The back dog was of course, no threat whatsoever and would be more likely to collapse at any given moment than cause me any grief.
Or so I thought. In a few moments the elderly Jack overtook me and began to chase its younger more athletic companion. I took a moment to laugh at the way in which it moved, its back legs moving at once, in a hopping motion, its front legs pedalling like a Loony Tunes character fleeing from the baddie. As we–the unseemly and incompetent convoy–kept moving through the field, I noticed a bench to my left and thought, ‘all right, let’s take a breather, maybe the dogs will run about a bit and play. Get it out of their system- so to speak’. The kid Jack wasn’t having it however and was motivated only by distance. The geriatric was still slowly making ground in second place. With a sigh I rose from my seat and began my pursuit.
Then in the blink of an eye I saw something I could scarcely have imagined previously. The decrepit beast burst into a pace akin to light speed and in a flash was out in front. I thought ‘well that’s very impressive Old Jack, but you won’t last long at that rate. Schoolboy error.’ But there was no looking back. He was out of here. Showing no signs of deceleration. Into hyper space.
The bat shit crazy incontinent old fiend soon overtook the kid dog, whom it was also fair to say was well and truly going places himself and in a matter of seconds, they were out of Millennium Park gates. In one moment it hit me that the walk had taken on a wholly different dynamic whereby I was not the walker but the walked.
I felt like a bad supply teacher. Moreover, Old Jack had well and truly conned me, all the while dreaming of escape, lulling me into a false sense of security at the beginning of the walk, playing the codger, then jetting off at the opportune moment. Had it been waiting all of its life for this chance? Was this its best hope for true freedom?
They ran straight out into the right hand side of the road; the oncoming side. A Chelsea tractor was forced to come to an abrupt halt to avoid running over the things. The driver honked his horn and waited for the dog to go round him before again pelting off ahead (at the cost of the biosphere). Fortunately for me, Young Jack was never really taking any of this seriously. This was no life and death situation for him, it was all just a funny joke, he was now content to amble along in second. Following his friend but by no means gunning to fly head first into the jaws of death alongside him. Meanwhile at the back I was tagging along, occasionally switching from brisk walking to bursts of half-hearted jogging, shouting the dog’s name every few seconds. Though it had once listened, it was not listening now. To my left a gardener was pruning his hedge, and looked up to see what was happening. I half expected him to moan at me for having lost control of my pets but he took pity on me and smiled before returning to his secateurs. I paused to think about how I must have looked, jogging, distressed, carrying two dogless leads, my cheeks bulging like hamster cheeks following my recent jaw surgery, and wearing my suave digi-shades, and a T-Shirt that said X-tra large Condoms, great sex, great protection.
I could barely make out the dogs any more, all I could see were furry balls floating over the roundabout. One after the other with a ten second interval. After a few more car horns the balls got to the top of my estate. I took it upon myself to catch up this time and used my massive pistons to propel me like lightning. At this point I was half-expecting to find a writhing dog corpse at every roundabout.
As I ambled on no such corpses were found. To my delight, Young Jack was soon within my grasp. I lassoed the beast and gained control of it once again. Old Jack however was last seen cackling and smiling to himself as he sprinted towards the horizon to his lifelong awaited freedom.