In principle, I like dogs. I know that they can be amusing, friendly, sympathetic companions. I’m just not so happy about taking care of them, including going for that essential early-morning or late-evening walk on a cold and rainy day.
Years ago, when son Mike and daughter Anne were little, we owned a dog that Anne cleverly named Chip. He was a good-looking English Springer Spaniel, which (by the way) I consider to be the perfect size for a dog — not too big, not too little. And now, as it happens, Anne has a Springer Spaniel of her own, which she has cleverly named Arlo. I thought you might like to meet him, before I go on with my tale of a new dog in Daglan. So here’s Arlo!
But as regular RFD readers know, my wife Jan and I don’t own a dog, having chosen instead to fly our two trouble-free cats to Daglan from Toronto. (Trouble-free? Cue laugh track.) I think it’s fair to say that my absolute favorite breed of dog would be the OPD — that is, Other People’s Dogs.
And now we have the enjoyment of a new OPD right here in Daglan, courtesy of Yves, a native son of France who spent many years in Toronto in the restaurant business before moving back to France. Yves has bought a large old house in the village, and is energetically renovating it — a huge job. That means he doesn’t have all the time he would like to spend with Bella, his Border Collie. Now meet Bella:
Having a dog available for recreation seemed perfect for my wife Jan, who likes taking long walks through the hills and valleys of the Greater Daglan Area. Bella could be a good companion for Jan, and in turn would get the exercise she needs. Their relationship started off fine, with some nice, long walks. Jan even bought a nice plastic bowl to carry in her backpack, so she could pour a drink of water for Bella from time to time. Here’s Bella, trotting along beside Jan:
Bella seems to be a very friendly and obedient dog. Whenever I’ve driven over to chat with Yves, Bella comes running out to greet me, anxious to be petted. And out on the roads and trails, she typically would obey Jan’s commands immediately. (Yes, the commands are in French.) For safety, Jan would keep Bella on a leash if they had to walk along a road, but she could let Bella go leash-free once they were on a trail with no traffic.
Sometimes, Bella would pull ahead, like this:
But then our weather began to warm up, and Bella’s get-up-and-go got up and went. After only a kilometre or so of walking, she would simply sit down and refuse to go any farther, no matter how much Jan tried to encourage her with “Allez!” Eventually Jan had to concede defeat, and turn back for home. Here’s Bella in sit-down-strike mode:
Still, Jan likes the idea of giving Bella a workout. Her latest thought was to take Bella into a field and play “fetch” with her, throwing a tennis ball to the dog. So that’s what she did yesterday afternoon, without a huge amount of success. Bella fetched the tennis ball three times, and then decided that she’d had enough exercise for one day.
Jan told me later that because they weren’t too far from Yves’s house, Bella might have been able to hear Yves talking with the fellow who was installing his satellite dish antenna. So maybe Bella just wanted to get home and see her master, since she clearly loves being around Yves. Or maybe she’s just not used to long walks in the summer’s heat.
There was another twist in the story as of this morning. Jan was out for a long walk alone, and bumped into a friend who had been walking her own dog for more than an hour.
When Jan related her problems with getting Bella to move, the friend offered another solution. She said that because she is so busy with work as well as her young children, she sometimes lacks the time to walk their dog very much, especially on Fridays. So she suggested that Jan could walk her dog at least once a week. We’ll see how this turns out.