Our puddles in England are epic.
Thus, our dog walks are dicey affairs. Phil and I struck out through the forest yesterday and ended up walking about twice as far in puddle-avoiding diversions. Routes are blocked by small lakes. Wellies are the footwear of choice.
You can’t trust puddles, especially in England, for they are opaque. So, a puddle which appears to be one centimetre deep will in fact turn out to be more like a metre.
But dogs don’t know that.
Cue Macaulay, on a short brisk post-work walk a week or so ago. A nor’easter was blowing a gale, the light failing and the dog’s long-suffering master, clad in full business suit and overcoat, winced against the wind.
Macaulay, however, was jauntily sanguine. His wiry little coat was tailor-made for places like this, and the inclement weather mean that a much greater concentration of canines had been this way than usual. The smells were intoxicating. Add to this the opportunity to paddle and sniff the damper darker decomposing bits of the forest and life was looking very good indeed for the little dog.
The path has had new drainage work done and pipes run beneath it to channel water away. And one was blocked, and Public Service Phil was concerned about this. He became absorbed in clearing it, and whilst he was so engaged the dog went in for some puddle investigation.
Phil turned to see Macaulay striding purposefully into a shallow puddle.
And the next minute the dog was up to his neck. The wily puddle had been masquerading as shallow and it had fooled the dog utterly, and Macaulay, a look of outraged shock on his face, was flailing around in the freezing water in a bid to find his paws once more.
Phil obliged. They arrived home and Macaulay, furious, slept with his back to us for the rest of the night, because of course, it was all our fault.
Terriers are masters at the art of The Clean Slate and the incident has not deterred our scruffy friend from negotiating the forest on a long-term basis. Yesterday, as we made detour after detour, the dog pottered happily alongside, putting the forest to rights.
But he wasn’t falling for any of that shallow puddle/deep puddle rubbish. Oh, no. Macaulay the terrier trod very carefully. Each puddle as carefully inspected, nose-evaluated, the gloom penetrated with sharp terrier eyes.
Until the advent of the duck.
We arrived at the pond in the heart of the forest to find a Peter-And-The-Wolf style duck at the edge of the pond, floating philosophically, pretending for all its might that it was not snowing and was, in fact, Spring.
Macaulay didn’t clock the duck for an age. And then some faint smell reached his disordered muzzle. And suddenly everything was changed utterly; Mac ditched his bumbling mutt persona and became Exocet. There was nothing else in the word, there was only him and the duck.
Between himself and the duck was a channel. It had long ago given up being a drainage channel and was now a small stream. But it was about five feet deep.
Macaulay at these times is under the impression that he, like the duck, can fly. And so he launched himself with abandon into the air.
At which point he remembered that flying was a bit of a problem.
He plunged down into the channel, torn between outraged shock and incredulity that a duck four times smaller than himself had flown to a place of safety and was laughing so much it might fall off its perch.
It was sorry dog who made his way home in the freezing nor’easter. And last night, he turned his back determinedly to us and slept radiating reproach.
Because of course, the whole sorry fiasco was all our fault.