status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
Much to Pooch’s disgust – a disgust he takes little pains to hide, I might add – our previously sedate morning walks have recently taken on a whole new element of excitement and adventure.
That in itself probably wouldn’t pose a problem for him, if it wasn’t for the fact that the reason for such change has come in the form of two dogs. And not just dogs, but the sort of dogs that Pooch abhors most of all – puppies.
Toy, an 11-month old Brittany spaniel and Diablo, a 5-month old something white and fluffy, belong to two good friends of mine who live in the same carruggio and whose work commitments do not allow for extensive canine trotty-wags during the week.
And as scooping the poop of three incontinent hounds as opposed to just the one really appealed to me, I offered to haul them along with us on our morning perambulation.
Once the initial daily chaos of trying to get them all into their respective harnesses and attached to their leads whilst the tiddlers make repeated attempts to kiss Pooch (who retaliates by trying to bite chunks from their fluffy little noses) and Diablo pees his happiness over everyone’s feet; we cross the road to the safety of the lane on the other side and the three sort-of amigos are then unleashed on an unprepared world.
An utterly hair-raising helter skelter down to the river – punctuated by the production, collection and subsequent disposal of steaming mounds – ensues, with The Musketeers occasionally sparing a millisecond to look behind them and check I’m still puffing along obediently in their mission-driven wake.
On arrival at the wet stuff, Diablo jumps straight in for a swim whilst Pooch selects the ideal rock to lavish his un-dividable attention on and Toy nervously cases the joint for scary stuff (which I would then be required to protect him from if he were ever to run it to ground).
Having three such very different dogs in tow comes with its own problems as I learnt to my cost a couple of weeks ago on leaving the river, when him of the old cronky legs stumbled over a stone forcing him of the agile legs to soar clean over his head, thus knocking him of the stubby legs off a wall and down a 1.5 metre drop into some brambles.
A rather long silence followed as Pooch, Toy and I peered down at Diablo in his uncomfortable nest; with at least one of us wondering how on earth we were going to retrieve him.
By lying on my stomach on the ledge and reaching down I couldn’t even touch the top of his head, much less haul him up by his harness which had been my plan.
But eventually he started bouncing up against the wall, and timing a lunge to coincide with a bounce, I finally managed to get him by the scruff and yank him to safety.
Diablo’s gratitude has since known no bounds, but has also had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing his confidence in my abilities to get him out of sticky situations. So it is that sliding down wet rocks, scrambling down muddy inclines and reaching into prickly undergrowth in order that accident-prone wee pup may continue on his waggy way have become an integral part of my morning escapades.
Seeing the dogs enjoying themselves so much has definitely made it that bit harder to drag myself home from all the delights the Italian countryside has to offer. What used to be a perfectly respectable 45 minute to an hour’s start to my morning routine, has now morphed into two hours and probably about 6 or 7 kilometres of japes so jolly that all those things I should really be hurrying home to get on with are quite forgotten.
But having always subscribed to the theory that over and above cuddles and treats, regularly walking your dog is the way to ensure its contentment and obedience (a dirty wet dog is almost always the happiest sort and a well-exercised dog is quite simply putty in one’s hands), it becomes surprisingly easy to put less pleasurable obligations clean out of my mind.
(Now that little confession is bound to go down a storm with the ever-responsible Mothership )
Nevertheless, little stubby legs of not-quite half a year and achy delicate legs of nearly twelve, cannot stomp on indefinitely; so eventually I turn my troops around to make their tired, damp but exceedingly cheerful way back towards the village.
After a relaxing cappuccino at the bar, the knackered trio are more than happy to be reunited with their beds; leaving me to get on with the more onerous obligations of the day whilst basking in the glow of satisfaction resulting from a job well done.
This is Status Viatoris, who cannot actually think of a better start to her day than herding the Tre unruly Moschetierri round the surrounding countryside, in Italy.