Dogs are uncomplicated creatures (usually). They like to be fed regularly. They need regular exercise. They thrive (usually) on company, either human or canine.
They love to play – usually with a ball but frequently with a pair of your best shoes or, God forbid, a dirty pair of knickers snaffled from the washing basket. And they love to sleep.
Now that I’m a dog walker and spend my day with dogs, I find myself sighing and smiling frequently at the simple joy they take from life.
That joy can come from racing round a field at top speed just because they can. Or sitting patiently for what must seem like hours until a treat is tossed their way.
Take Alfie. He’s the now seven-month-old cocker spaniel we inherited from a Lead On client who found him all a bit too much.
Alfie is – in the words of my missus, Debbie – a total geezer.
In the Glasgow parlance, he’s as gallus as all get out.
He’s been living with us now for just over a month and is a constant source of amusement and irritation in equal measure.
Alfie has boundless energy. To paraphrase the description of The Terminator from the classic sci-fi movie, he cannot be reasoned with. And he absolutely Will. Not. Stop.
Which, in my line of work, is pretty handy. He’s out with me for hours every day walking with dogs of every age, breed, size and temperament. It’s fantastic socialisation and wonderful exercise and ideal for a breed that thrives on company and exercise.
He doesn’t stop following me either – I really do have a little black shadow at my heels all day, every day. I can’t even get to the lavvy without Alfie nosing open the door or whining outside until I’m done!
Currently Debbie and I find ourselves in fits of laughter at his Pavlovian response to my laptop. My habit is to sit on the couch with a cuppa to have a wee surf of t’internet after we’ve returned from the daily grind on the local hills or beaches. Alfie curls up at my feet and falls into a deep sleep.
But the sound of the laptop closing has become the signal that I’m about to head for the kitchen to start dinner and he bounds to his feet and trots off in that direction, whether I move or not. Of course, he does it every single time I am on the laptop so now I do it for badness and cheap laughs. Don’t judge me, I don’t get out much.
The reason that Alfie is so keen on me heading for the kitchen is because eating is another area of life in which Alfie absolutely. Will. Not. Stop.
He is one greedy greedy bandit of a dog. We’ve already had an embarrassing incident in the park where he and Dudley, another greedy but charming bandit, raided an unsuspecting family’s picnic as I shouted in vain for them to ‘come here!’.
I then had to endure a humiliating dressing-down from the irate mother who’d seen her kid’s sarnies scoffed by two marauding mutts while the mutts in question sauntered off in search of their next piece.
Alfie’s so greedy that he has taken to sitting virtually on my feet whenever I potter around the kitchen. His theory – and it’s not a bad one as I am a tad slapdash at food prep – is that eventually something will fall his way. And he’s such a wee glutton that he doesn’t care whether it’s a scabby piece of potato peel or a choice morsel of meat – all is grist to his digestive mill.
Just as well for Alfie’s waistline that we’re out walking for miles every day – and for mine too.
Thankfully I’m finally starting to see some benefits from all the exercise I’m now getting. Of course, I’d see more of a weight loss if I actually ate less, but hey-ho, one step at a time!
In short, Alfie is growing into a very happy, well-exercised, friendly wee dog. And I’m having more fun than I ever thought possible watching him have the time of his life with new chums.
His latest pal is Ruby, an eight-month old German shepherd who towers over him and seems to think he’s her own personal chew toy.
But that’s ok cos Alfie is convinced Ruby is actually his own personal chew toy …
Business is, thankfully, starting to pick up after a lean summer. We’re now at that time of year where the nights are fair drawin’ in and dog owners who have enjoyed evening sojourns with their pets on the long, light summer nights are now realising that walk won’t be half as much fun in the dark.
And that’s where I come in. Well, where me and my little black shadow come in.
Tober v: to put someone in their place; to cut someone down to size; to chastise. Eg: Alfie is such a little geezer that I have to tober him every now and then by sticking him in his crate to calm down
Kick the can: In this game of chases, the can was the den into which the chaser put everyone who’d been caught. Anyone still free could run into the den and kick the can to set everyone free
Ma bit: This expression, probably in more use in Glasgow and the West, refers to where one lives. Eg: Ye comin’ roon to ma bit? I’ve got a kerry-oot*
Goony n: nightdress (f). Eg: I put the bins out last night in my goony and was black affrontit when a gust of wind blew it up over my heid
Footer v: to fiddle with something, to act in an aimless fashion. n: a task that’s fiddly or seemingly pointless. adj: footery. Eg: Putting together flatpack furniture is a right footer of a job
Wheech v: to move at speed, to do something quickly (may also be a noun). Eg: I’m in a hurry so I’ll have to wheech round the shops this afternoon
Geegaw n: a garish ornament or bauble. Eg: What is it wi’ auld wifies? Their hoose is aye stowed wi’ geegaws
Kerby: Two participants stood on opposite pavements with a football. The object was to throw the ball at the opposite kerb (or curb as the Yanks say) and have it bounce straight back at you. If it bounced, your opponent took a shot. The game was frequently interrupted by shouts of “car!”
Hands: A clapping game played by girls, this was a playground favourite: Under a bramble bush, under a tree, boom boom boom boom! True love for you my darling, true love for me!
Randan n: a wild night out. Eg: Debbie went on the randan with the Anderson-Manley-Thomsons, despite it being a school night
Hough n: shank of meat. Eg: There’s nothing better than a ham hough for making lentil soup
Hunker v: crouch, squat. Eg: Think we’ll just hunker doon behind this tree until the rain passes
Coal-carry n: piggyback. Eg: My big brother gied me a coal-carry up the hill cos I was puggled
Snipes: A twist on the card game pontoons (or 21), in this the loser was whoever went bust. They had to make a fist and present their hand to their competitors who would whack the deck of cards against their knuckles as many times as the loser went bust by, usually ending with bleeding knuckles. This was a vicious game that parents severely frowned upon.
Scabby Touch: In this game of chases, a minging piece of orange peel or something similarly foul was picked up from the playground. A process of elimination (perhaps eeny-meeny-myni-mo) selected whoever was ‘het’ – this was the Scabby Touch. The object of the game was to pass the Scabby Touch on by throwing said peel at others and scoring a direct hit. This game suited fast runners and those dextrous in twisting their torsos to avoid flying objects
Chinese ropes: Elastic bands were tied together and two participants (they were usually girls) took a hold of each end and held the rope at differing heights – ankles, kneesy, hips, waisty, shoulders and head high. The object was to jump over by whatever means necessary – at head high, it was only the most athletic who could handstands! The 2 ends were sometimes tied together for a jump game: ‘England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales!’
Boke/boak v: to vomit, be sick, retch (know as the ‘dry boke’). Eg: I had the dry boke when Alfie caught a bloody big moth and played with it before wolfing it down
Pawkies n: sheepskin mittens. Eg: She couldnae get her bus fare oot cos she had her pawkies on so the bus driver just drove away
High heid yins n: bosses, management, the usually unaccountable people at the head of an organisation. Eg: Look busy, the high heid yins are coming down any minute now
Brae n: hill. Eg: Debbie was peching big time after we had to climb a steep brae with the dug
British bulldog: Probably the most violent of all playground games, at my primary the entire school used to be involved in the game. One person (the bulldog) stood in the middle of the playground with everyone lined up facing him/her. The bulldog chose someone to run from one side to the other. If they caught them, they stayed to become a bulldog. If they got past, everyone else then raced from one side to the other shouting ‘British bulldog!”
Balls: Usually played by girls, this game involved two tennis balls and a wall. The participants bounced the balls against the wall while singing a rhyme and having to turn around or bounce the ball through her legs.
Hares and hunts: This was a simple game of chases with two teams. The hares did the running, the hunts did the chasing. When caught, each hare had to return to ‘the den’ and await the rest but any uncaught hare could free every caught one by running into the den. They usually had to shout something too but my memory aint what it used to be so over to you!
Feartie n: scaredy-cat [feart is also a verb, meaning to be scared of]. Eg: Don’t be such a big feartie and away oot and see what’s making aw that noise in the garage
*Kerry-oot: n: carryout; drink purchased from an off-licence for consumption at “ma bit”