Things I learnt whilst walking the big, black dog

I have a big black dog. Yes,  in the flesh as well as metaphorically.

Each day I attempt to walk him around our neighbourhood, though this very rarely turns out well. In actuality, I am the hair and red cheeks at the end of the lead as Dog (with a very big D) races off to discover the sensory wonders of a leftover ham sandwich that picnickers have left behind.

He’s a good dog. A loving dog with a big tongue and a gentle mouth. He’s quite simply the largest Labrador pup I’ve ever seen, let alone welcomed onto the end of my bed. It’s not that he doesn’t have his own bed, in fact, he has two, but most nights you will find him stretched out between the husband and I snoring loudly enough to wake the dead. He is a good dog though. He is the very best lawn licking, knicker nicking pup there is, and he often teaches me things as he drags me along the suburban streets hair first.

Today was rubbish day. It was a warm but not stifling morning. Clouds sat on the horizon too content to rumble or race . I walked Nitro down the hill past the faux-castle (yes, we are a nation of funny folk) and around the corner towards the track that wends its way over the headland down to the Marina. I learnt many, many things about my neighbours today.

1/ My neighbours like wine. And Bombay Sapphire. And milk.  Lots and lots of milk bottles in the recycling. Does the milk consumption ameliorate the alcoholic consumption?

2/ If one should rise in the clothes they’ve slept in (none) one does not need to pull the curtains. One should greet the sun in the altogether and as they do smile at the rubbish man and the woman with the frizz challenged hair walking the dog. I have some pretty unattractive neighbours.

3/ Dogs have a sixth, seventh and eighth sense, but it’s their ninth sense I want to focus in on. Dogs sense evil. Whether supernatural, human darkness, or rabid feline, dogs sense it. There can be no other reason why my puppy duppy stood dead still on the street and barked at a gate. If I’d let go of the leash he would have eaten that gate and spat out the bolt. He might have licked the letterbox for afters…but what was he barking at? No one was there. No one. Not a cat or dog or noxious human. What was he barking at? Resident evil. That’s my pick.

4/ Seagulls can fly, dogs can not. Shame. Suck it up buttercup. In this sucky life, there will always be seagulls, and some of us will always be Labradors.

5/ Midlife angst is alive and well and rearing to go at about 80km per hour in a 50 km zone. I’m assuming the decibel rating of his raceway scream up the road is directly inverse to the size of his manhood. Middle age sucks but please don’t kill a couple of kiddies in your quest to prove your virility.

6/ What’s wrong with people who put out ONE rubbish sack? One. One little bag. It wasn’t even full. Do these people live? Do they bleed? Are they real? One…? I’m still trying to get my head around that as I cross the street with two of my sacks and casually place them in my neighbour’s lineup. And when I nonchalantly push the jangling recycling bin out to the kerb. We have lots of jars and um, cordial bottles.

7/ Little lap dogs don’t pooh. Apparently. That’s the only explanation I have for discovering thousands of cheerio turds along my route. Their owners mustn’t notice when Todd needs a sit. Perhaps they’re checking their phone? Interesting how it’s always little poohs that aren’t plonked into doggy bags and removed. We know because it’s always the little ones that Nitro hoovers up before I have a chance to stop him.

8/ A good life is full of many little things, and in order to really squeeze the marrow out of this life, we should sniff and bite and sometimes inhale every single paspalum sprig, and every single fern. Though Nitro’s determination to sniff every single little thing means my walk around the neighbourhood takes so long I could possibly do it quicker on hands and knees than whilst walking him, he has taught me something. What if we were to stop and mindfully experience our lives instead of just marching on, how much better would our lives be?

I have a big black dog. On good days and bad days, I walk him around the carefully kept gardens of Half Moon Bay. I peer not-at-all-creepily through windows of empty houses and wonder where the people are and I puzzle at the vagaries of the weather that sweeps in off the harbour. With the help of my big Black Dog I see everything, hear everything and feel everything.

I have a big black dog, both actually and metaphorically. It’s a blessing and a curse, but at least I know I am truly alive.