Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dog Talk

They say that animals can understand human talk, but I’ve never seen convincing proof of it.
I did converse with our animals, as most people do, but more for my own comfort than that of the cat or dog.
Kibo has finally shown that there is truth in the idea that dogs can understand human speech.
Last week we went to a play in a castle behind the house of friends about an hour away from us. We were received with tea and cakes, and Kibo happily joined in by sniffing around the garden and being generally gracious.
When it was time to go, we told her to climb onto her cushion in our 2CV. The rooftop was rolled back for plenty of air and the back bench was tilted forward for ditto space.
Kibo jumped in, and sat up expectantly: what now?
I leant over the side of the car to speak to her: “We’re going to the castle to watch a play. You cannot come with us, but we will be back in a few hours, and then we will all go home again.”
Before I had finished my little speech she lay down, curled up in a circle: “You go. I’ll be here, when you get back.”
The performance was a treat. We spoke to the director and some of the actors, had a few drinks and returned to our friends’ house.
I thought Kibo would be alert, and spot our voices from far off. But no, only when we were very close did we hear the cloppity-clop of her rat-like tail against the side of the car.
She was elated to see us, and ran back and forth to lick our hands.
But concerned whether we would come back? No, of course not! I had told her that we would, hadn’t I?

Friday, August 21, 2009


When we were considering buying the house I was worried that it would be too lonely for A, so I called her. “Yes, yes,” she said, ”but can we go for walks from the house?”
Having studied the map, I could reassure her.
Now, after 7 years, we can stay here for a week and go for a walk every day, without ever having to do the same track twice. I thought we had exhausted the possibilities.
Today, after the last guests had been gone a few days, the house had been cleaned, and other jobs done, we felt like going out again.
We’d done it before: studied the map, and ventured out in new directions. But often they led to paths overgrown with brambles, or barbed-wire fences, too hard to cross.
Yet today we tried again, and to our joy our route led to a beautiful winding track that ended in a small paved road. We turned right into a dead-end of well-kept holiday homes. From there an easily travelled path led us up through the fields and across a trickling brook to a small hamlet of farmhouses with flowerboxes in the windows. The road beyond took us to known territory and led us back the long dirt track, meandering home.
We were elated! This is what discoverers must feel. To have gone out on an uncertain adventure, with not quite enough information about the outcome. And then, the delight that it all worked out better than expected!
After 2 hours we came home to well deserved coffee and plum crumble from our own orchard: three happy explorers, 2 persons and a dog!