This isn’t a guide to keeping out of trouble on the mean streets of Kent, it’s about taking a dog for a walk, specifically my dog.
A Springer Spaniel has various levels of excitement;
1) Mooching around the kitchen like a bored and grumpy teenager because they have picked up that a trip to the forest isn’t happening any time soon. This may involve sighing and slumping down on to the floor with a very meaningful bump which communicates a very definite pissed-offness with you and the world in general. Do not allow this to continue for too long, or, much like a hyperactive teenager, they will start roaming around looking for things which will end up broken – ‘I was only sniffing it and wagging my tail, honest.’
2) Interest has been engaged – the head is up, an enquiring look in the eyes, their gaze will eagerly follow anyone moving about on high alert in case they need to move up to…
3) The dog is now pacing the kitchen between any members of the family present. Trousers and footwear will be sniffed and inspected closely to see if it’s Walking Gear
4) The dog now knows something is happening but is undecided whether you really are going to the forest or merely going out to cut the grass. Don’t get me wrong, the latter is still quite interesting, the dog loves the garden, but it isn’t the forest. He’s running around the kitchen in anticipation of something, still sniffing anyone in sight, going to the door, looking very pointedly at where the lead is hung up, but there’s still an element of doubt.
5) This is it. You’ve reached for the lead or done something else to hint that a walk is really happening. This level of excitement includes levitation, that jumping up from a standing start to human adult nose level that seems to be a Springer speciality. There’s still a lot of running around, but at a much faster pace, so this can lead to the dog achieving moments of parkour. He’ll have been running around the kitchen then suddenly leap up at where his lead is stored and run around the wall for a couple of steps before coming back to ground level and running around some more.
Unfortunately this running around some more most definitely includes running under the nose of anyone bent down trying to put on shoes or boots. And jumping. Jumping up at your nose to bump heads as you bend over to pick up the boots he just knocked over.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been head-butted by a Springer Spaniel but they have pretty hard skulls. When he was still a puppy ours managed to run into my shin at full pelt in his excitement at meeting a neighbour and their dog on a walk. It hurt. Really hurt. It brought tears to my eyes and I found it hard to breathe and walking was out of the question for a couple of minutes, whereas the dog was running around completely oblivious to the impact.
Where was I? Oh yes, avoiding a broken nose.
We have learnt to intersperse our getting ready for a walk activity with other stuff, such as loading the washing machine, emptying the teapot of tea leaves, refilling the kettle. All stuff we’d want done before we got back anyway. Then, at the last minute you go for the lead, take the dog to the door, shoo him into the garden and put your boots on with the sound of furious barking from outside, but an impact-free nose and face.