We’ve had Rob and Elisabeth’s dog, Milo, a golden retriever, for the past fortnight. He’s a good-looking, good-natured fellow, but we’d forgotten the reality of dogs.

He’s a large and powerful animal. Basically his interests are food and smells. He likes people and he loves playing. When you’ve taken him on a LONG walk, stood for ages at the pond on Ditchling Common, throwing in sticks and apologising to the people he soaks by going right up to them and shaking his coat dry, yielded to his pleadings not to be left in the car while you have a coffee and kept a vigilant look out so he doesn’t snaffle food from beneath the noses of other people’s unsuspecting children, and you eventually get home and collapse on to your sofa, it can be slightly irritating when Milo, whom you would think might be exhausted by now, instead thrusts his tug-of-war toy on your knee and repeatedly nudges you to propel you into play.

He enjoyed his walks with John, but finding John didn’t tolerate any nonsense, Milo (he’s a smart dog) figured how to be revenged on John for any perceived slights. Why won’t you let me lick your plate clean? Why can’t I eat what’s left of Anne’s dinner? I didn’t bother her and she doesn’t want it. I like chewing your socks and it’s not as if you don’t have plenty. I’m not doing any harm lying in your flower bed. I think the flowers look nicer flat to the ground. I prefer drinking out of this muddy pot rather than that boring clean water you’ve provided… Well, if you’re going to be unpleasant about it, I know what I’ll do… And out he would go to the garden, all meek and obedient – and the minute John’s back was turned, he would start digging a hole in the lawn.

Now John is an eminently sensible and reasonable fellow, gallant to women and kind to children and animals, but there are two things about which he is not entirely reasonable, and those are golf and lawns. So when he came in from the garden with an air of just having witnessed a total catastrophe, and announced in tragic tones, ‘Milo has just dug an enormous pit in the middle of the lawn’, I expressed sympathy but had mental reservations. When I looked out in the morning, I could see there was indeed a small hole. John set to at once and filled it up with sand, soil, grass seed. He carefully watered it in. Milo sat nearby chewing thoughtfully. “Now don’t dig there again,” John told Milo severely. Milo, who has a most eloquent face, expressed total surprise. ‘Who – me?’

Yet later when John had reprimanded Milo for nosing under the table in search of crumbs while we were eating, I just knew where Milo was going as he sloped off into the garden. “Why are you closing the curtains in the middle of the day?” he enquired, not unreasonably. “Er – it’s too bright,” I said feebly, frowning at the dark clouds. “I have a headache.” John, like Milo, is not stupid either. “It’s that damned dog, isn’t it?” He twitched the curtain back, and there’s Milo, digging for Sydney, compost, soil and grass seed flying behind him in all directions.

But this morning, Rob and Elisabeth having taken him off home after their holiday, there was no cheerful, hopeful face to greet us as we came downstairs, and we miss him.

About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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