In a way fairly typical of recent walks, the night begins.
At 0230, I roll over between my two-legs, and nudge Daddy. I’ve got him trained now, and he responds correctly, by getting up, going to Small Room, then starting preparation for our walk.
Keys, camera, head-torch, phone, chewing-gum, personal screamer alarm… each goes into place, then Daddy starts getting socks and shoes on. It’s hard work for an old guy with lots of crunchy arthritis in his back, but Mum’s not well, and he has decided not to wake her.
Then comes my harness. I like to play a little bit coy, and the game of getting the main yoke over my head can take a minute or two. By 0240 we are off.
From the moment Daddy turns on his blinky red LED tail-lights at the gate, it’s business. There’s critters close at hand, and traffic to watch for.
We cross the first major road while there’s no traffic, and head up the first loop. A few hares can be seen near the Transport Facility, but not close enough to bother with.
We have an ongoing game with Very Barky Dog in the isolated house among the paddocks. If the wind’s right, and we make very little noise, we can get past without getting woofed.
Sound carries in our valley, and no trains or factories are running as we pass. We are given a very thorough woofing.
One of the Friendly White Van Guys passes, and exchanges waves with Daddy. Wow, this driver must spend a lot on tobacco! The plume of ashtray-smell lingers until the sound of his engine fades.
Now we’re passing the shops. Daddy takes one of his quickie pics with the phone. They’re useful to say where we were, when. It helps him see how we’re doing as far as effectiveness-of-exercise goes (factoring in my sniffing and piddle breaks), and might (in very bad circumstances) be of some use to the forensics people.
Daddy often thinks of what we will do if confronted by bad people. We’ve met some, but never more than two at a time so far.
He knows I’ve got his back. The rest is:
* Handling the humans and encouraging them to disengage;
* Keeping both of us safe; and
* Summoning assistance.
The strategies have worked so far, but it’s good to be ready, just in case.
Down the busy road we go, back toward home. Well, it’s busy by daylight, anyhow. Currently, we can hear one vehicle, and that may be an old-fashioned mile away, closer to the city.
Our walk is shaped like a pair of reading-glasses, with two loops and a bridging section between them. We pass within sight of home, and head for the second loop.
After passing Acacia Possum’s yard, we reach my favourite underpass. I’ve developed the habit of leaping up to give Daddy face-height snuggles. I also love to run along the embankment while Daddy holds his end of the leash high.
I look down at him, with a huge doggy smile.
We head across the bridge, and uphill toward Best Hare Paddock. From a few hundred metres away, we can hear a pair of workers on the railway line talking. A train is approaching (we can just hear it) and the switch will be needed, to send it on whichever of the lines it’s meant to use.
After a few stretches of sidewalk, it’s time to go off-road, up the path beside Best Hare Paddock. This is a lonely stretch, and there are no houses close by.
Daddy generally chooses to turn off his blinky LEDs along the section, so we can get up close and personal with bandicoots and other beasties. His blackfella night vision, much envied by Mum, is usually enough to get by on. The head-torch is mainly for photographs, but its intensity could be useful as a dazzler in case of a confrontation.
Speaking of which…
From further up the path we’re taking, there’s a sound of distant whistles, muttering and general carry-on. To Daddy, it sounds like four or more Wasted Yoofs. This kind, he thinks, are bad: rebellious, wanting to prove their toughness, and as yet unaware of the potential and consequences of acts.
I hear them too: to me, it’s just a Big Wrong. Time for a little doggie initiative!
We’ve reached the furthest point of the outward part of this section of the walk. Instead of turning a corner toward the road, I wheel 180°, and begin walking at a very fast clip down the path we’ve just climbed up. This isn’t a run, because Daddy’s ruined back can’t tolerate the bounce of running strides, but it comes darn close for pace.
At a rate like the thirty feet or so we gallop at the embankment, we continue down Best Hare Path. Daddy is moving like one of those Formula One cars when they kick in the KERS boost, using a few Lumpdogg Units of tow from me. (If he stopped walking, he might fly behind me like a kite-tail!)
We’re at the underpass before I stop towing. From what Daddy sees on the map, I have contributed to his pace for a quarter of a mile, in old terms.
We are home quite soon, having shaved fifteen minutes off the usual time for the circuit, with hardly any appreciable loss of distance.
Daddy gives me an extra doggie chocolate with my post-walk Nice Things. After a bit of sitting down and unwinding, we cuddle up in the bed.