The dogs loved to go for walks, especially on a lead, because it was a great treat. However, although legs were lifted on every lamppost and tree, they would never lose their dignity by defaecating where anyone could see them. I can’t possibly use the modern parlance “do a poo” because it would be completely unsuitable. I never saw Simon, nor Huck past puppyhood, do such a thing. It was done in private in the shrubbery and then buried.
There was no question of walking to heel. They led, I followed. Simon hated cats with a passion and would yank me over if he saw one while being walked. But the fun started at the end of the evening when it was time to come in. If they didn’t want to, they didn’t come, and we never left them outside for the night. I had to catch them. It was a game. I’d chase, they’d run – much faster than me, of course – and I had to try to outwit them. I still remember a time when Huck disappeared into the opposite neighbour’s garden and I correctly deduced that he would skim along the hedge on top of a low brick wall and reappear at the corner. I hid, his face popped out, I grabbed his collar – and I still remember the look of surprise, it was brilliant! I had no chance of ever catching him again the same way of course.
When we had seven dogs (yes, there are quite a lot of stories to come) I couldn’t manage them all on leads at the same time, so three ran free and I walked the other four. Most of the day, they ran free in the garden of course, with Simon and Huck being able to get out and go wherever they wanted.
I’ve mentioned Simon’s prowess as a womaniser … erm, *bitcheniser*? Hmm, I think not. He was regularly arrested and we received calls from the police station. “Simon was found assaulting a bicycle” was a memorable message. Another time, I picked up the phone – “do you have a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, by any chance?” I said we did not. “Pity, one’s just been brought in and we thought of you.” Half the pups in the area must have been created by him.
We had Dutch au pairs, first Cobie and then her sister Joepie, and later a Finnish girl, Malle. They used to take English classes at the local college and also visited friends they made there, travelling by bus. Simon soon learned that if he followed at a discreet distance, he could hop on the bus and go several miles without effort, find a few new girlfriends and then walk home. He could always find his way.
The house had big sash windows and the side ones were used by the dogs. It was so much easier than going to a door. We never locked doors or windows in those days, but it would have been a brave burglar who tried to break in. Once, very good friends offered to call in to pick something up that we’d forgotten on the way to a party. The dogs knew them of course, they were totally loving and friendly. Yet, when they opened the front door they were met by hostile eyes. They greeted the dogs by name, but they would have none of it. One step over the threshold and the dogs’ hackles rose. Our friends backed off and reported failure. Next time they met, of course the dogs were all friendliness.
I must tell you next time about Simon’s prowess with languages. Not that he spoke them of course. He was a dog. But his understanding was remarkable.