Had a slight altercation with another dog walker today: It made me realise how little we know about other people’s stories and how hard we have to fight to remember that.
We’d only just got in the field and I let Kara off the lead as normal. She’s not great at recall but we know most dogs round here – she either plays with them or runs up to say hello and runs back. Occasionally she embarrasses me but she’s not the only naughty dog and as she approaches strangers on her belly I never worry too much.
Today we met a woman walking with I guess a teenager holding a dog on a lead. A small dog, maybe a beagle. I didn’t get close enough to see.
Kara ran off before I realised there was someone there (my head is still a bit foggy). I thought initially it was just the poodle Kara doesn’t like and she’d come straight back. It wasn’t, she didn’t, and before I could call, the girl had run off crying into the field, dragging the tail-wagging dog with her, while the woman flapped at Kara to shoo. Anyone who knows dogs knows that’s just an invitation to play. True to form Kara lay on her belly, wagging her tail and grinning, and after some screaming from me and more flapping from the woman she ran back.
I should have stayed to apologise but I was part embarrassed, part furious, and decided the girl’s obvious fear was sufficient excuse to clip Kara’s harness on and leg it.
I took the other path, under the storm clouds, and was rewarded for my crime with a drenching. My initial reaction was rage that the woman had hit out at Kara, and irritation that they would walk somewhere where dogs are generally off lead.
When I calmed down I felt awful. Mine was the mistake and I should have stayed to apologise. Kara’s a big dog compared to a beagle and if the girl was scared of dogs I would hate to add to that fear. I should have had Kara under closer control until I knew the field was empty. I don’t know their story. For all I know the girl was conquering a fear of dogs by owning a little one and Kara bouncing up might have done untold harm. Or not. Unless I meet them again (and pray to God I don’t) I’ll never know.
But my ranty words on Twitter in the initial aftermath are still there and the truth remains that Kara is still a fairly disobedient dog. My anger, I realise, came from knowing I was to blame and for not considering their story, their situation. That sucks.
At least I can stand here, in this nice remote field, and watch Kara’s joy as she runs for the sake of running. She’s already forgotten the incident. We can learn a lot from our canine friends. [Written on my phone while walking the dog.]
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Sky looked up from the game she was playing on Claire’s phone and tilted her head like a sparrow. “Auntie Claire, will you help me with my homework?”
Claire looked over at her niece in surprise. “Homework, at your age? I don’t think I had homework until I went to secondary school. What would I have been? Eleven?”
Sky looked blankly at Claire. “We get reading and spelling and sums. Not during the holidays though.”
With a flush of guilt Claire realised she was relieved not to have to teach spelling. Without Spellcheck I wouldn’t have a clue. Why bother sending your child to school if you have to teach them when they get home?
“So, what homework do you have for the holiday? Your Mummy didn’t say.”
“I forgot to tell her. I have it here.” Sky pulled her bag onto the bed and rifled through the contents, eventually retrieving a crumpled sheet of A4 paper.
Claire took it and smoothed the creases out before reading the contents.
For your Easter Homework please choose one of the following two options.
1. Build an Easter Garden. Research which flowers grow well in pots and tubs using the internet and non-fiction books. Read about the Easter Story, including the events leading from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection and consider the symbolism of ‘growing things’ at Easter time to represent new life.
2. Write a story using your imagination. Plan it with a story mountain so you know it has at least five parts to it (beginning, build up, problem, resolution, ending). Try to start each part of your story in a different way (action, description, speech). Maybe try to rewrite a traditional Fairy Tale. Don’t forget capital letters and full stops (some of you are also using paragraphs, commas and speech marks).
Claire closed her mouth and gazed at the sheet. What the..? She’s SIX. I don’t even know the Easter Story from Palm Sunday. Never mind how we’re going to grow an Easter garden and carry it around in a Skoda. And what the hell’s a story mountain? Inhaling deeply through her nose, Claire looked up at the guileless gaze of the pixie girl sitting cross-legged on the bed. Her mind felt foggy, like it did when Carl plonked an unexpected project on her desk or moved a deadline.
“Er. Okay. Which, um, which one did you fancy doing, Sky?” Not the garden, not the garden, not the garden.
The pixie face split wide in a smile. “I thought we could write a story. You do writing for your job: I’ve seen you.”
“I don’t write fiction, sweetheart, but I’m happy to help you write your story.” It is her homework: I just have to facilitate it. I hope her imagination is better than mine. And she knows what a story mountain is. I think Google might become my friend. She sat on the end of the bed, the homework sheet hanging from her hand.
“Can I do the fairy tale thing? I thought of a story. What if a Fairy Godmother got hiccups or kept sneezing and it made her magic go wonky? What if she tried to turn the frog into a prince and turned herself into a frog instead?”
Sky giggled and bounced up and down on the bed. “Then she wouldn’t be able to do any magic because she couldn’t hold her wand. Or maybe she could hold it in her mouth but then she’d sneeze again. Or hiccup. And become, um, a butterfly. Yes. No. She could become a pumpkin. No, a bird. A magpie. And she could…”
Claire listened to Sky’s imagination spilling out into the monochrome hostel room, filling it with colour and life. If I had ideas like that I would have more followers on my blog. Or I wouldn’t have to be here at all: I’d have made Director without jumping through Carl’s stupid hoops.
Thinking about Carl’s involvement in her current situation made Claire’s temples ache. It’s probably time I came to a decision about Carl and his stupid assignment. She looked at Sky, scrabbling through her bag to retrieve a blue workbook and sparkly pink pencil case.
First things first. Carl can wait. I have to help the next Roald Dahl create a masterpiece.
- Today Was Doggy Heaven (charliespaniel.wordpress.com)
- Breed Profile: Beagle (muttsonthemoveah.wordpress.com)
- Doggy Door (harobedretsiger.wordpress.com)
Homework Idea Sources: