Hamish has two periods of great activity, morning and evening. In the morning
he can barely suppress his excitement at the fact that yesterday’s pattern
might repeat. He might get to go on a morning walk… how fabulous is that?!
And then he sleeps for a bit and follows people around the house and generally
does what dogs do. In the evening he comes outside not knowing what the
activity might be. Are we going to pick cherries? Are we going to prune? How
about we chew on milk cartons, tug on a rope, chase the big blue plastic thing?
And have I your permission to pee? This last question is annoying. You can
put him outside and think, “Well, he’ll do his business when that business
comes due,” step outside a half an hour later and find that he’s saved it up,
waiting for your godly presence to release. When I think about it I see why
this happens. I instruct him when he can move here and there, how he should
not run into the road, what he must not chew on or eat. And when he first
arrived there was a period in which he learned where and when pee was
encouraged. So he may yet think he needs my permission under some
circumstances. I trust he’ll grow out of this problem.
We stepped outside to play with the big blue ball. I chuck, he retrieves. The
difficulty sometimes is that the chickens think my presence might indicate
bedtime and the release of manna (or bread) from heaven.
Here comes Hamish, barging, “Coming through.”
I do my best to throw where chickens aren’t, but the traffic control is far
from perfect. Sometimes the chickens reminded me of the suffragette who
stepped in front of the King’s horse. Pride, not bodies, gets injured.
“Oi! Hound. Look where you’re going! There are girls here trying to get fed.”
We live in leafy suburbia, but folk are obsessed with the trim and the tidy,
which they achieve with the aid of loud machines: compressors, chippers, chain
saws, mow and blow devices. B. and I stumbled upon a potential solution at an
estate sale. The sale was way out in the country. We went for the crabbing
and boaty stuff and did well, but there was also clay pigeon shooting
equipment. The thought was: next time someone fires up a loud machine, we
could use that noise as cover for a clay pigeon shoot. Of course we’d not stop
the noise, but could make it more enjoyable.
“Pull.” Boom. The suburban West becomes just a tad more wild.
We were at the estate sale because we weren’t out on the ocean. I put
considerable effort on Friday into getting us ready to go. To ensure an early
start, B. brought the boat over. We ran the engine—very briefly, not a whole
lot of noise—and checked the electrics. All worked well. Steak dinner for
two, with wine—L. and E. were at a cider event. B. slept in the guest room.
Up betimes (as Samuel Pepys used to write), loaded everything, pressed the
button that controls the wee motor which lifts the heavy outboard motor into
its travel position. Nothing. In dawn's early light checked all the
wiring—with Hamish’s enthusiastic help, of course—and tried again. Hamish the
only happy camper, in full wag mode, “We should do this more often!” No go.
Eventually we decided to drive down to the boatyard, hoping that someone might
arrive early. Nope. At nine, when it was pretty much too late to set off for
the coast, the boatyard guy showed us how to bypass the electric lift and pull
the prop out of the water manually. I can count of the fingers of one hand
crabbing trips in which rope has not once become tangled in the prop—it’s a
hazard of maneuvering in narrow and crowded channels. Trying to lift the motor
without mechanical aid seemed like a recipe for one of us falling in. We
decided to leave the boat to get a relay fixed, unloaded the expedition
equipment at home, hied ourselves off in search of an estate sale. Found, but
did not buy, clay pigeon equipment.
After the sale Hamish came with us to round two of the cider event. Recently
his horizons were expanded to include other dogs and open spaces. When he
first encountered the Columbia River he attempted to bite it and, when that had
little effect, to drink it. He’d run a little way in, say, “Wait…it’s *still*
cold and wet…” exit, repeat. By the end of that afternoon he’d thoroughly
exhausted himself. At the Cider event he met another large new thing, a Great
Dane, which he sniffed in the usual manner, reaching his nose high up. His
look seemed to ask, “Why does it smell like a dog?” He also met really tiny
dogs and found those pretty puzzling too. (I’m with him on that count; no idea
why people want a dog you can put in a handbag).
L. had a tennis match. E. was on her way home. B and I finished the day in
the jacuzzi. The chickens came over to express their views on how long gods
“Seems a bit dangerous,” said Mimo.
"Ancient history,” Rocky opined.
Appenzeller, “I think history’s interesting myself. Last month, for example,
was the diet of worms.”
Peccorino, “You are referring to the deliberative assembly for the Holy Roman
Appenzeller fluffed up, “When we chased the snake out of the compost pile, we
got total worm access. History is written by the victors.”
The chickens all nodded their heads, “Yes, yes. Quite heroic, us.”
B. and I. decided we’d had enough, rose, stepped out of the jacuzzi. The girls
retreated from the water that fell from our swimsuits. “Duck for dinner?” I
“Is T. coming over?”
B. responded, “She said she’s busy.”
“Then there’s only you, me and E. then, L. has a tennis match. Plenty.”
The girls wandered off, whispering, “Did he say they were going to eat a duck?”
“Muck,” I reassured them. “Eat some muck."
When tired and hot, Hamish likes to lie under my desk. I love the way he gives
a little wag when I roll my chair back and look down. Doesn’t raise his head
much or put his whole body into it, just lets you know that if there are sheep
to be herded, or boats to be fixed, he’s willing.
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