A Sunday Walk

Our pair of ancient Hungarian Vizslas most often can barely walk these days, let alone 'go for a walk'. Nevertheless herself decrees (probably quite rightly) that it would hurt them more to keep them in that to venture out into today's crazy mixture of rain, sleet, snow, wind - even occasional flickers of something bright and faintly yellow called sunshine.

So off we go, Dee and I well booted, coated, trousered, scarved, gloved, hatted and hooded, Mati and Sorosh wearing only the all-weather protection afforded them at birth by nature. But in truth the weather doesn't seem to be a problem for them as we march off down the road in single file, myself and Sorosh in the lead, Dee and Mati coming up behind. For it has been ever thus each and every day, for the past fifteen years anyway. Plus for the fifteen years before that with our first pair of beloved vizslas, Seth and Chloe.

After a few hundred metres I turn right on to the track that takes you down to the beach but Sorosh is determined to go straight ahead, for he knows I have chosen the coward's way. He wants to go on another half a mile before taking the second beach track option, thus extending the walk. By now my fingers are frozen within wet gloves and my headgear no longer protects my face. I see through my spectacles as if through a glass, darkly. I let old Sorosh know who is unarguably in charge here as we take the right.

We always take a picnic lunch in a backpack. So here we are, sitting on a couple of boulders in the face of a really good slant of sleet. We're eating sandwiches and biscuits, herself with a flask of coffee, me with my soup. Lovely. The dogs crouch, wetly shivering against the elements, but they're still alert for our leavings and awaiting the issue of their own dog biscuit. Waves break out in the loch, crash into ragged shanks of rock then roll up, die lickspittle slow over sand and shingle. I look up to the cry of a seagull. He wheels and rides and holds station in the fast moving air with hardly a wing beat. Bloody marvellous. He's looking for something to eat. He always is and I leave him a little something as we pack up and walk away.

The walk back is like the retreat from Dunkirk, ourselves like some band of raggle-taggle gypsies-oh. But the dogs still pick up scent where some un-nameable creature has dallied by a tuft of heather and we all know there's a lovely coal fire waiting in the cottage and a proper dog's dinner for them and a cup of tea for each of us.

And some time in the not very distant future we won't have them, our dogs. And we won't have this, but we will remember it and them and the wonder of our time together ...

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