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Dog Walkers, by Carol Rowlands





Sample chapters



Ozzie, Ozzie


“Stupid dog!” the woman calls out. “He’s such a stupid dog!”

“Oh, he’s dreadful!” agrees her husband.

“Never stops!”


She’s a bespectacled, jolly person in her fifties, and he is a mild, pleasant looking man. They are colourfully clad in matching green and yellow anoraks with tartan pockets.

We’re following the antics of their big, glorious, lumbering dog, who’s obviously very much still at what you might term the teenage puppy stage. He’s one of those adorable bearded collie types, but perhaps a crossbreed – chocolate brown with a few splashes of white here and there, around the bib and the paws.

Long, scruffy coat flopping everywhere, he is apparently in the process of being guided into some minimal level of obedience and “bidability”. Currently he’s careering around in that batty, rubbery way that young dogs have, bending and changing direction every second or two, picking up sticks and immediately dropping them, rushing at my dog for a game, but instantly getting bored and looking elsewhere for entertainment.

A handful indeed, but a lovely handful.

“I love his great big paws …” I begin.

“What a ruffian! Look at him. You’re a ruffian, you!” she shouts.

Pause while we marvel at his mad, lollopping twists and turns and his bottom-in-the-air, front paws flattened, bating gesture. Scrumptious. You’d want to hug him, if he stood still for long enough. They clearly dote on their charge.

“Don’t be such a silly nut-case,” she yells.

“Gorgeous, though, isn’t he!” I realise it’s bucking the trend but I feel compelled to give voice to something complimentary.

“What a mess you are, Ozzie! He’s such a scruffy mess!”

Husband is nodding resignedly, “Dreadful mess.”

Ozzie careers up to Rosie, missing her at the last possible second, eliciting from the wife a bellowed, “you’re a right thug, Ozzie!”

“He’s always been a terrible thug,” the husband enthuses in my ear, eyes still directed towards the big whirling bundle ten feet away from us. At which point Rosie turns towards Ozzie with the merest hint of bared teeth. Off he scoots. At least as far as her other side. But before he’s wound himself up for another tease, the wife puts both hands to her mouth to amplify her giggling call of, “Oh, don’t be such a scaredy-cat, Ozzie! Ozzie, who’s a scaredy-cat, eh?”

“He cracks me up!” says the man, shaking is head in wonderment. “I’ve never known such a dumbo. Eh, Ozzie? Who’s a dumbo, eh?”

It’s exhausting.

I have a mental picture of the two of them at home, preparing for a night on the town.

“How do I look, Brian?”

“Oh, hideous, doll, not seen anything so badly turned out for a long while. D’you think this tie’s OK, by the way, Doreen?”

“Well, Brian, it looks like draft-excluding tape. Is it draft excluding tape, Brian? Goes with the phenomenally shapeless jacket and insipid shirt, Brian. And I’ve never seen hair quite so unruly. It’s totally unruly, Brian!”

“I was going to mention to you about your make-up. Did you get the toddler from next door to do it, Doreen? Really diabolical make-up, Doreen. ”

Adoring smiles. Big hug. And off they go.


© Carol Rowlands 2009





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