Recently I was persuaded to look after a small cocker spaniel whilst his owners went on holiday. The thought of twice daily short purposeful walks in the local countryside was quite attractive and all his food had been provided so no difficult shopping decisions were involved.
His bag of dried pelleted food was in fact huge. In contrast the scoop for the twice daily ration was rather modest, being around the equivalent of a half pint mug. But what happens to that dehydrated food inside the dog? How is it possible that his internal organs can produce so much waste material - so regularly? Within minutes of feeding the conveyor belt went into action. So it became a race to get the lead on and out of the house within minutes of the last noisy slurp from the water bowl - not forgetting the need for at least two small plastic bags in the pocket. So much for gentle walks with the dog!
In the house he revealed another side to his nature, one of totally loyalty and fascination with my every move - every single move. I discovered the meaning of "dogging my footsteps" with a vengeance. Movements around the kitchen, especially with hot pans, became a challenge. Off to the garage for a screwdriver? I had a friend checking every corner and shelf. Into the greenhouse for tomatoes? Quick scent checks of all the contents seemed to be the order of the day. What about mowing the lawn - surely he would just settle in a corner and watch? No chance. The occasional ball of grass cuttings looked appetising, as did tree branches and other debris on the vegetable patch. I had planned to harvest some potatoes but thought better of it. Pulling out weeds suddenly seemed to be setting a bad example.
In the evening I had a full and frank discussion about possession of the easy chair and we came to an agreement about not nudging small tables containing food and drink. It was agreed that computer leads could be crossed, with care! In return, Dog was allowed to bark (once) in welcome of visitors and stretch out either on a dog duvet or in his basket. He was also allowed - in fact encouraged - to sleep contentedly for periods of the day, provided that he also slept at night - a time period that had to last until at least 07.00. because paws on wooden stairs can be deafening and also signify yet another un-successful man-made stair barrier.
He could do as he pleased and I would fit in. I just had no answer to his trump card - a facial expression that knew exactly how to tweak the heartstrings.