With this years vendange (grape harvest done) and feeling rather fit from it. Yes! I decided I needed something to entice me out and about in our village on a more regular basis. And thus my stint as the early evening dog walker began. So let’s talk Walkies.
Normally the dogs are Pumpjacks domain, whilst the cats and ducks are mine. I may have more animals to take care of, but I have the easier deal. They all require feeding in the morning, and again in the early evening. Anything beyond that is up to me and my own schedule. Whilst the dogs typically have 4 walks spaced out over a day. But they would have a walk every 5 minutes if they could have their way. And our two certainly know how to turn on those puppy dog eye stares to try and make their dreams come true.
Our day begins before dawn, with coffee in bed. While the kettle boils, the cats are fed and Chewie and Sanka sleepily join us to wake up to the day.
Come dawn and it’s time to let the ducks out. They have a bedroom in our stable. Occasionally we have a duck or two in the house, in which case they are let out of their bedroom (in the shower room) and taken down to join the other ducks.
Pumpjack, Chewie (standard size dachshund) and Sanka (a cross Bergeron and Griffon) get ready to head out. This involves much excitement, playing and milling about the front door. I use this time to keep my head down, sip more coffee and work on our shop, bidding a happy farewell to the chaos.
And occasionally, when the day dawns particularly lovely, I join in the milieu.
And… they’re off! It’s a race to see who can get out the door first. Then we all congregate in the courtyard and head out through the barn. Sanka normally runs ahead, before circling back to make sure we are following. Sometimes one of our cats join in and race us as we head down.
A quick feed and top up of water for the ducks as we pass their enclosure and we head to the bottom gate for proper ‘walkies’. We are surrounded by woodland paths, lanes, tracks and fields. Each walk is dictated by the weather and whether we have a cat joining us.
Walking with Cats
If Gigi or Noisette have decided they want to come we head along the wooded path, away from the town centre. My reasoning is two-fold, safety from vehicles and closer to home as they don’t always opt to come back with us at the end of the walk. I prefer to feel secure that they are able to find their own way back with ease.
Generally, when the cats join us, we end up walking a lot slower. They are (particularly Gigi) notorious for flitting back and forth in search of mice. Sometimes, if everyone seems really keen on actually walking, we continue on along a short rarely used lane before once again entering the woods on a path.
This area is frequented by boar and deer and is a paradise of smells to our pets. We don’t get very much further as they disperse to find what ever smell excites them most. It can be awhile before we get to head back home. There is a wonderful fallen log Pumpjack and I have taken to sitting on in these times. We catch up on our days plans whilst waiting for the meanderers return.
Walking with Ducks
Every now and then the ducks show an interest in our walkies. In the past Maggie has often accompanied us. More recently, Gabby follows us to the bottom gate. When this happens, I pick him up and he rides leaning back against my shoulder. Mainly for his own safety, but honestly, it would be a truly slow walk with a duck waddling alongside, too.
A change of Direction
Sometimes Chewie and Sanka decide the walk will be out the front door. However, going out the front means putting the dogs on a lead to walk around the roads and lanes of the village. We always end up circling around to our bottom gate, but on the other side of the wall.
Coming in we are usually greeted by a cat asking where we have been. Or more importantly why didn’t we take them with us?! Back in our our garden, the ducks come to welcome us back and get under foot. Yes, walkies can be complicated. And slow.
I often take this opportunity to then walk with the ducks in our garden. Or maybe I should say meander as they are not the quickest walkers, rather waddlers. They are often diverted by a tasty bug, worm or chance to dip their beak into a muddy patch. Sometimes we only make it a few meters, generally back to their enclosure. Other times we make it all the way to the barn.
I love when this happens. It always makes me smile to find myself walking up the path at the head of a line of ducks. Inevitably it is Gabby immediately behind me. He likes to tell me whether I need to slow down or wait for a bug forage.
Hopping with Happiness
Beyond all the fun and kerfuffle with the various other animals, there are two lovely reasons I enjoy my dog walks. As I mentioned, our dogs would be taken out every 5 minutes. Not possible, but when we do go out their exuberance and joy are boundless. They truly make me smile.
The other is the sheer tranquillity and beauty of being out in the countryside. It doesn’t matter the weather (though I prefer it not raining). It is sheer bliss walking along with our wonderful little family.
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