I was always a cat person. Growing up we had a number of moggies, some friendlier than others, but when my eldest boy was 2 we got a cocker spaniel called Billy. He was so sweet with his ding-dong-bell ears.
Now we have Buster and Boo. You may notice that all their names begin with the letter B, as in B for Bernard. My kids have my husband’s surname so I thought it was only right that our pets should celebrate my bloodline – silly I know, but that’s just me.
Anyhow Buster is a Standard Schnauzer. Did you know that there are less than 300 Standard puppies born each year? The Minis seem to be more popular but I like the robustness of the Standard. He is a lovely old fellow, nearly 12 now, and is placid, good with children and a big soppy thing when it comes to cuddles. It wasn’t always like this. Standards are notoriously hard to train. You ask them to do something and they look at you as if to say ‘Surely you don’t mean me’. It took blood, sweat and tears from all of us.
Boo is a little scrap of feisty Cairn Terrier, all mouth and no trousers. She is ready to take on anyone and anything, until you get the brush out and then she runs upstairs, yelping like a big girl’s blouse. If you ask her to show you her belly she rolls over and lies there until you tickle her.
My DH and I take it in turns to walk the dogs in our local woods which are just coming to life and oh so beautiful. And that’s where the fun starts. Boo has to stay on the lead. When we walk over the fields at the weekend she runs free but the woods are a different matter. I blame the squirrels. She has a pathological hatred of them and will happily chase them in to the next county with me flailing after her. Don’t even get me started on the deer. She just doesn’t understand how small she is. Another reason she is on the lead is because she will just fly at any dog that comes towards her, shrieking expletives but wagging her tail. Talk about mixed messages. We have tried all kinds of training including me growling at her, which seems to be working.
Buster on the other hand is leadless on walks and happily ambles along until he spots anything related to a Labrador. It might only be the minutest microgram of Lab DNA and he turns in to a shag monster. From the front, side or back, he really doesn’t mind. He has been neutered but the rutting gets worse as he gets older.
Now you have an idea of the perils of my daily walk. This morning everything was just lovely and calm, the woodpeckers were pecking and the birds were tweeting. Then, round the corner came 2 Black Labs (did I mention the Black Labs are Buster’s particular favoutite?) and some smaller dogs from the other direction.
Instantly my two transformed. It’s like being out with Hinge and Bracket after they have been at the sherry, with Buster showing a burst of speed you would only expect from a younger dog, Boo barking like a Celtic warrior falling on a Roman battalion and a 6ft mad woman running behind brandishing a lead and growling.
Back home for a lie down I think.