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Dog Walkers, by Carol Rowlands





Sample chapters



Up to her full height


“She understands every word I say!” proclaims the tall lady.

A familiar assertion from a doting dog owner.

A friend and I are mooching along the High Street with our dogs when an elegant woman, squat little Yorkshire terrier hovering at her feet, stops us to ask directions. She’s in no hurry, it seems, and soon we’re all exchanging mutual canine compliments.

“I can see you keep your mummy in order too, am I right?” she continues, fluffing the coat of my friend’s collie, Hamish. “Sometimes you just have to tell her who’s boss, don’t you?”

“Oh, he is – no question!” laughs my friend. We all join in the merriment.

“Ah, look at those soulful eyes. Full of love. I bet he’s broken a few little hearts in his time, haven’t you, you gorgeous boy?”

Only my friend’s, when he bit the postman last year.

Our new acquaintance nods downwards at the silvery brown blob on the end of her lead. “This little one has got the measure of me, well and truly! Rules me with a rod of iron! Quite the autocrat.”

She’s well into her stride now.

“For example, tiny as she is, yesterday she jumped straight up on the duvet. Made sure she’d got herself suitably muddy in the garden first, of course, wouldn’t you know it! She knew the cover was clean on – she was quite clearly punishing me for failing to take her out for her morning romp!”

I’m standing there wondering if I seem as batty as this when I hold forth myself, suggesting rivetingly complex motives for some of the actions of my small lurcher, Rosie.

Please let it not be so.

“ … and my husband and I had a bit of a tiff, you see. Well, Mabel stood up to her full height in front of me and gave me one her withering looks, and I just knew she wanted us to make it up – she was telling me!”

The woman addressing us is extremely bright and composed, and has the manner, bearing and vocabulary of one who is at the very least a university lecturer in higher metaphysics.

“ … so anyway, when she saw me reaching for that second slice of cake this morning at coffee time she simply sat there and barked at me! She barked frightfully loudly! Ear-splitting! She was telling me I shouldn’t be so greedy. Saving me from myself, you see … definitely thinking of my best interests!”

My friend and I simultaneously look downwards to examine with greater appreciation this generous-hearted little soul, whose gaze, even as we watch, is wandering vacantly from ankle to ankle.

“D’you know, it’s a tradition in our house that Mabel wears her sparkly collar on her birthday. So pretty! She feels so special in it!”

“Well, she is very cute ” my friend says, not entirely truthfully.

“And doesn’t she know it!” tall lady beams.

She is now finally on her way, and my friend and I part company too, a knowing smile passing between us.

Resuming my walk down the High Street I look down at my own dog.

“What do you think, Rosie?”


© Carol Rowlands 2009





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