I’ve never professed to being an animal lover. Perhaps it has something to do with losing a succession of pets as child to poison and cars. I learned from an early age not to get too attached to anything on four legs.
I did dog sit a couple of dogs for a week once in Alaska and quite enjoyed the experience. It was nice to have someone rush to the door to meet me each evening and these lads were too old and too lazy to need much in the way of exercise.
I recently toyed with the idea of getting a pup but then realised quite quickly that they would be on their own more often than not and as I struggle to keep my plants alive, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about my pet’s longevity.
Working from a mate’s house in Dublin today, I was asked to take the dog, Hammer, for a walk. I like him. As dogs go, he’s intelligent and funny and very handsome. They said that he’d let me know when he was ready. About 12.15. And on the nose, he jumped up on the chair behind me and gently began to push me off. I got the message.
I took some poop bags, having been instructed that if he pooped on the path I was to pick it up. He mightn’t, they said. But then again he might. And he did. Four times. Four separate occasions. And I lost all but one bag along the way so it was quite the chore. Me walking the streets of Dublin with a tiny plastic bag full of dogshit is something might not have captured the interest of the paparazzis even had there been any about, but I felt as if I were on parade.
And then he peed. At least ten times. It seemed as if he was answering messages left for him along the way because make no mistake, he was walking me, not the other way around.
Many lifetimes ago, when I was visiting from Alaska with my then boyfriend, we stayed with the same friends. He got up one morning and went for a walk before breakfast under instruction to be back within half an hour. An hour later no sign. We’d warned him that the streets of Dublin had evolved without much planning. All the houses on one street look the same and rarely do those streets run in straight lines. This was back in the days before mobile phones so we had to set out in groups to see if we could find him. I was left to stand guard at the front window in case he should pass back this way. Which he did. Two hours later. And, in typical male form, denied ever being lost.
Today, I walked those same streets and got just as lost. I have no sense of direction at the best of times and hadn’t a clue where I was. I was conscious that I had a speech to write and work to do and that time was ticking by. I was getting anxious. And Hammer knew it. He looked at me with something approaching despair and said ok, ok, I’ll take you home. And he did. Amazing. I’m left wondering which one of us is the smarter being.