Monday, 8 September 2014

Always expect the unexpected!

I seem to be forever weighing up the responsibility of keeping my large, bouncy goldie safely on her lead by my side, against the need to allow her to exercise and enjoy running and sniffing freely and of course, the need to practice our recall ... believe me, this is not an easy balance to achieve if you live on the outskirts of a busy County town, rather than in wide open rural space.

On Sunday afternoon, we struck lucky walking through our local woods as there wasn't a single dog or person to be seen or heard ... it was really peaceful, so  I unclipped her lead and let Polly indulge in a favourite game, chasing sticks into the big muddy dip and retrieving them for us.

She was absolutely delighted to be free, racing into the dip to fetch sticks a couple of times, then returning them to Dad like a good girl the moment she was called ...

So why the pic of me on a bicycle?

Well, it's a token pic really, something to show I have absolutely nothing against cyclists.  As you see, I own a bike and have even been known to ride it on occasion ...

So back to our walk: the next stick was thrown into the dip, Polly dutifully charged down to collect it and raced back up the side to return it ... at which precise moment a cyclist appeared as if from nowhere and despite my belated bellow, my naughty girl showed me a clean pair of heels as, stick still in mouth, she ran alongside the cyclist ... who didn't stop cycling.

It's no defence I know, but to make myself feel better, I would like to point out here, that whenever we are walking and I spy a cyclist I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, move Polly to the side of the path, telling her to sit and wait until they pass - which she does beautifully and without question.  She never lunges, just waits patiently by my side.  I also always abide by the Highway Code by keeping her on a lead on cycle routes ... I try so very hard to be a responsible owner!

So, why, oh why, Miss Polly, did you race out of sight alongside the cycle yesterday afternoon, ignoring my 'come, come, COME HERE NOW POLLY' pleas, for what felt like an eternity (in reality, seconds) as I ran huffing and puffing behind you?!!!  Heaven only knows what that poor cyclist must have thought, but whatever it was, one thing is certain, they had no intention of stopping, so you disappeared down that winding path grinning from ear to ear, out of my sight within a second.

And on the subject of cyclists, I would like to say I completely understand it could be daunting, potentially dangerous, perhaps scary and definitely frustrating to have a large unknown dog running alongside on your Sunday afternoon bike ride through the woods and for that I sincerely apologise.  Yes, my dog should of course have been under control at all times, but for an instant we were surprised by you riding up behind me and Polly completely forgot her manners in her excitment.  In fairness you were cycling in an area well known locally as dog walking ground, rather than on a cycle route and we dog owners do have far fewer areas in which to exercise our dogs than you have available to you to cycle .. that doesn't give anyone a greater right of way, but I do think a little generosity of spirit on both parts is probably the best way forward.  I am certain you couldn't have failed to hear me calling repeatedly, not to mention whistling loudly and had you simply stopped pedalling for the briefest of moments, you would have allowed me the opportunity to recall Polly quickly and continued your lovely Sunday afternoon ride unhindered.

And to you Polly ...

Yesterday's bicycle incident was far from a perfect display of obedience and yes, I was disappointed by your instinctive urge to chase, but I do accept running alongside a moving bicycle was a probably far more exciting than chasing sticks and yes, you are absolutely right, I didn't see or hear the bike coming, so failed to give an instruction in time and in the split second you really needed me to tell you what to do, I let you down by giving you just enough time to make your own choice - and Polly, it has to be said, it was a really bad choice!  Searching for something positive to take from our experience, I can at least say I am eternally grateful you didn't bark, lunge or interfere with the cycle in any way, not to mention my relief that some element of the many long months of recall practice eventually penetrated your mischievous doggy brain as you flew along that path beside the cyclist (and thankfully, before you raced off to who knows where!) ...

Yes Polly, I truly thanked my lucky stars the moment you I spotted you running back towards me and my bag of cheesy treats - minus said cyclist!  Your recall may not have been immediate when surprised into chase, but at least it was in there somewhere - albeit eventually.

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