Of all the drives in all the housing estates in all the world, she walks onto his.
My kitchen window is like a watchtower. It overlooks the portal to the forest: the very entrance to the woods. At its foot is the first hint of green verge for any dog: like an oasis in a new-town desert, here is something which holds all the promise of peaty woodland, scampering squirrels, the back end of doe-eyed deer.
Just below my kitchen window, it begins.
I watch the well-mannered local dog owners refrain – sometimes at great personal cost – from leaving anything but the most subtle of messages. Nothing that would require a bag, if you get my drift.
And then two weeks ago, I gaze across the washing up bowl like the Lady of Shalot and see something not entirely routine.
He was tall six-foot, of stocky build, with the most extraordinary corkscrew goatee; she was a one-foot-high blonde bombshell with the sashay of a Parisian and a nose for mischief. And she was squatting on the verge outside the window.
Outraged, I peered at the business end of the little jezebel. What was emerging? Alas, the days of 20-20 vision are long behind me and no amount of squinting would clarify the matter. She was a small broad, and any evidence was bound to be diminutive. A short wait later I was out there, checking the crime scene. The broad had left nothing broad. The coast was clear.
Over the following days the gossips got to work; chief amongst them, my son. “She’s called Chou-Chou,” he said. “Her owner has travelled all over the world.”
So: a little exotic colour had arrived here on the parochial edge of the forest. A whiff of doggy danger. Yet further intelligence did not flatter Chou-Chou’s intellect: she was spotted by the local Observer Corps (headed by Felix and his friends) barking frenziedly at a plastic cat.
A week later, I got out of the car to find Chou Chou delicately nosing the verge once more, her bright eyes fixed on our front door. Her owner, an affable bloke in a loose linen suit, smiled. “For some reason, ” he said, “she wants to walk up your drive and into your house.”
I grinned. For eight years, Macaulay the dog has been perfecting his special doggy-cologne during regular visits to the forest. It is irresistible to all dogs which has resulted in a few unfortunate encounters from over-amorous males; but now it was weaving its pungent foxy magic on the dazzling new debutante on the block.
I thought Macaulay was reluctant. Impervious to her feminine charms. But now, every time we pass Chou-chou’s special patch of grass, underneath the kitchen window, he takes an age to clock and classify what she has left behind.
Meetings are cordial but include moments of delight.
And this, in Mac’s eighth year, when some might say his Casanova days were over.
Who knows what plans the chien fatale is laying for our downtown boy.