‘Do you want me to put my dog on the lead?’ shouted the woman on her phone, as she came towards me on the woodland path, her huge hound bounding ahead. It was not a polite question. It should have had ‘or what?’ on the end of it.
People not calling their dogs in and making them behave is normal. To be aggressively asked to state my dog etiquette preferences as an unruly, slobbering beast gains ground on me was a new one. I wanted to shout: ‘No! It’s fine! I like being eaten alive by dogs!’
I had my two spaniels on the lead because we have a new addition. Poppy was so bereft after Cydney died that we decided to tap the builder boyfriend’s mother up. She always has a foundling or two. She said she had a young chocolate spaniel.
We went to see her and found Dave the dog billeted in the stable yard with two Alsatians. He bounded out to play with Poppy, and we took him home that day.
Quite quickly, we realised he had been learning techniques from his former flatmates. He was not at all vicious – being a typical soppy spaniel – but he made comic attempts to pretend to be vicious.
Having observed the German Shepherds doing their thing in the stable yard, he tried to replicate it every time someone came to our door. It took a while to convince him that guarding was not needed, or not to the degree that it was needed in a stable yard in the middle of nowhere. Even if it was, he was not the ideal candidate. A cute chocolate spaniel must know his limits.
After a few weeks he got the idea and became what the builder boyfriend calls a beddy pooch.