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Dog Walkers, by Carol Rowlands





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A Great Love Affair


“Another flapjack?” asks the nice lady.

“Um, perhaps we’d better think about …”

“Go on, just the one! …” She pushes the plate an inch towards me.

I’ve been sitting in her kitchen now for precisely fifty-five minutes. And the clock is ticking.

I’ve had two-and-a-half cups of tea, two biscuits, one slice of home-made chocolate cake, a tangerine and a flapjack.

I arranged with a friend to rendezvous at her mother’s house, from where the three of us would set forth with our respective dogs. But my friend has cried off, so now it’s just the two of us, me with my little lurcher and the affable mum, Wendy, with her miniature black and tan dachshund.

My plans for the day dictate that I have to be on the road home by four o’clock and it’s now ten past three. I just can’t understand how it’s come to this. I arrived, all booted up and ready, with my dog buzzing in anticipation, well over an hour ago.

I believe her nearest park is a good ten-minute walk away, which means, of course, a ten-minute walk back afterwards. The potential duration of our actual “walk” – dogs running and playing – is dwindling minute by minute. We might manage half an hour, if we leave right now.

I’m going to have one,” she whispers guiltily, reaching for the plate.

“Oh, well then …”

“You know, Dinah loves her walks!” She’s been talking about the dog almost continuously. A great love affair. Well, that and baking, which is clearly also a lifelong passion.

“She adores meeting all the other dogs. It’s very good for them, you know.”

“Mm, it is.”

“She’s such a character. Oh, I roar when I see her bossing them all around!”

“Ha, I suppose she’s making up for her size …” I laugh.

“You know, she used to have a big red football when she was younger. Couldn’t go on a walk without it! I used to get into such trouble if we forgot that big red football!”

“Yes, they’re creatures of habit, aren’t they…”

“And she’s got her little friends, you know. She goes bananas if one of her little chums is there. You should see them together!”

I sneak my umpteenth swift look at the kitchen clock.

“Err, d’you think perhaps we should? …”

“And she still loves to have a little run, don’t you, Dinah? Loves the space … so exhilarating for her!”

“How old is she, actually?”

“Oh, she’s coming up three-and-a-half now. Quite a grown-up old girl, eh, Dinah?”

Suddenly, halfway through my second flapjack, we’re up and away. But, ah, we seem to be going by car. Oh well, saves a few minutes, I suppose.

But what’s this? Isn’t this the wrong direction for the park? Long minutes elapse as we negotiate side street after avenue after crescent after traffic lights…

Finally, our destination. Wendy cries, “Here we are, Dinah! Here we are, everybody!”

Out we get. In front of us is a diminutive stretch of grass, no more than sixty yards from one end to the other: the kind of place I would pass on my way to one of my own walks without even seeing it. A set of children’s swings takes up one corner, and there’s a suggestion of a flower bed across the other side.

And our walk? We complete two whole circuits. Dinah is let off her lead with a flourish, and pootles unrestrained, nose to the grass. Wendy breathes the fresh air and comments proudly on her dog’s antics. My Rosie zig-zags across the extent of the patch, making the best of it.

We’re back in the car and on our way home in under a quarter of an hour.

What on earth was I worrying about?


© Carol Rowlands 2009





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