The dog wears a forlorn air in these pre-Summer break days.
We have a theory: we believe he is missing the cat, who died a short while ago leaving an angry tortoiseshell-shaped rent in the fabric of our existence.The house has become relaxed, unchallenged, unconfronted. It’s agressometer is running on empty.
This foxes the dog. The tension of the cat’s fury was the thread which embroidered the shabby hearthrug of his life. He is simply adrift in a sea of listless calm.
He needs tension.
And what better way to introduce angst to the dog, than by turning him into a railway commuter?
Yes: circumstances dictate that on Saturday, when the household repairs down to Cornwall, we shall do so in two halves.
Maddie and I shall take the car. We shall go indecently early to avoid the first-day-of-the-holiday rush, departing at 6am and arriving in Exeter in time for those lavish shops to open, and an early jaunt around the cathedral.
Felix gets terribly carsick, so Phil and Felix will wait until later. They will walk the dog around the forest, and then they will make their way to the station, trailing Macaulay. And they will board a train for Exeter with a dog in tow.
Macaulay the dog will spend around three hours on the fast train to the English West Country.
He will travel in a luxury unheard of by his doggie predecessors. According to a superlative source in the rail enthusiast’s blogging world, Turniprail, dogs have been accompanying their owners on trains for a very long time; but not necessarily comfortably.
In the early days of rail, tickets were purchased by owners for their dogs, which had the owner’s name written on them.
On September 11th, 1846, a Mr Wallop was on his way home to Gosport from a day’s shooting, when he was apprehended for firing his gun out of the bally first class carriage window.
Dashed irresponsible: what if his faithful gun dog had followed the volley out of the carriage?
As you would expect from such a gentleman, he refused to give up his name: but he was required to show his dog’s ticket. Which had his name on it. Perhaps Mr Wallop was not the most incendiary ammunition in the barrel.
During the 1850s, Turniprail records, a court case concerned an incident in which man’s dog managed to escape from the rather cramped conditions available for our best friends at the time: dog boxes, stashed under second class seats.Nobody wanted to do this to their dog, it seems. Romey’s Rambles on Railways records ladies who hid their dogs in shawls, and in hand baskets, and one man who hid his dog in a carpet bag.
The Kennel Club got their teeth into the issue and by the twenties, regulated, clean dog boxes were available, to transport our best friends in comparative comfort.
But by the thirties the dogs were out and proud. The Take Your Dog By Rail promotional poster- immortalised at York Railway Museum – reads:”Drinking water for dogs can be obtained from station refreshment rooms or on request to a member of the station staff.”
Past pooches may have faced a battle for doggie rights; but Macaulay will travel free of charge at the feet of the Shrewsday men.
Let us hope his journey spices up his life to the required degree.