At this time of year, we see the dark evenings drawing in earlier and earlier, and so opportunities for taking the dog out for a proper walk get increasingly limited.
As it happens, I’m one of those sorts of blokes who likes to be prepared. I like the coal bunker full, plenty of logs in store, generator ready to go, and so items like torches are always readily at hand.
I quite often set out in the dark, torch in hand to take the dog for a walk. We have a collar with flashing LEDs which means I can easily spot Monty darting 20 yards ahead as I pick my own way through the woods or along the canal towpath.
Unfortunately, however, another factor creeps into the equation around now. My previous dog, Rory, an Alsation of dubious pedigree, was utterly devoted to me. At every opportunity he could be found pressing himself close against my leg, or maybe behind my chair snoring away contentedly, comforted in the knowledge I was very nearby.
Now Rory was a big softie except where protecting the house was concerned. At the slightest sound, his hackles would be up and he would produce the deepest, loudest bark imaginable and perform his “tenting” duties to the best of his abilities. So well, in fact, we thought it prudent to install a mail box at the end of the driveway, so he and our postie could remain friends.
Surprisingly, however, this time of year was not easy for him. Completely ‘gun shy’, the sound of exploding fireworks would see this proud, brave animal reduced to a quivering wreck. As Bonfire Night grew close, we would have to make sure walks were completed before 4pm, and the curtains were drawn once home and there was plenty of noise around from the television or music to mask explosions outside.
Little Monty is quite different. Much more independent, he prefers the comforts of his bed to proximity to me, so I find myself most evenings with him all alone in the other room, only stirring if I happen to pick up my car keys. Fireworks seem to hold no fear for him.
I have often walked past farmers shooting magpies or pheasants and Monty couldn’t care less. I even had him at the vets for a routine jab, and he trotted carefree into the surgery apparently oblivious to the smells and unphased by distant sounds of confined animals. He wagged his tail as the needle went in, and when being weighed almost fell asleep on the scales.
When off the lead he concentrates hard when under command and always comes back when asked.
In fact, he is so laid back, the one time he gets a bit on edge is when I order him to do something. Only then, might he start to show any sign of nerves. Even then I can’t help thinking it is more a matter of manners than being nervous. I think he finds shouting uncouth, even impolite.
Essentially, I believe, like all of us, he just likes to be asked rather than told!