Friday, 17 September 2010

10. A Playground Picnic

The Tank and Magpie are looking after Purdey.  They're watching out for him.  Making sure he's all right.  It's really sweet.  It's as if they know he is missing his 'brother'.  They stroke him, and are learning not to yank his tail or pull his ears.

They don't, however, look after Tatty, our ancient Westie.  They stalk her, poor girl.  Luckily, her self-esteem is high enough for her to shrug her shoulders and disappear.  Pronto.

The girls feed Purdey at any opportunity.  Magpie will look at a runner bean and think:

'Hmm, when Mummy's not looking I'll give the doggy a bit of a snack.' 

With her big navy eyes narrowing, she likes to feed Purdey furtively, but when he licks his chops, it gives the game away.

Or The Tank, who has taken an unusual dislike to breadcrumbs, might wonder if a well-excercised dog needs a fish finger or two.  She throws food at Purdey as if laying down a gauntlet, but imagine a Labrador going:

'I'm rather full, actually, but thanks anyway!'

This week I decided to do what mothers with one toddler and one dog do - take them out together to the playground.  Perfectly civilised.  In theory.  With a civilised dog.

While I have often walked Purdey and Klefti and the girls together - one big dog walking either side of my tandem buggy (I only wish I had a photo to share with you), until this week I have never taken the girls to a playground with a canine companion.

Taking the girls and the dogs to the park, where the former are strapped in to their buggy and the latter are taken off lead and are expected to bark and get excited, is one thing.

But letting the children loose, and tying up the dogs - or at least tying up Klefti - would have been another thing all together.

God bless his Greek white socks.  Had I tethered him up outside a playground, there would have been an immediate bark of indignation, causing all mothers and toddlers heads to turn towards the cachophony.

A post-mortal Klefti, looking down on this situation, might have said something like this:

'What?  You are leaving ME out here?  You must be kidding.  I'm not having this. 
 I'm absolutely NOT having this. 
 You can't adopt a beach dog, fly him 3,000 odd miles, give him the Life of Riley (whoever Riley was), and then take it away from him!'  Even for FIVE minutes!  It would be like asking your maid to come upstairs and sit by the fire, having a stiff scotch and a foot massage!  It just doesn't happen!'

Of course, in my anthropomorphic world, this thought amuses me, although Klefti wasn't a snob.

He didn't care how down on your luck you were, how posh or how common, as long as you received a hug with the same affection with which it was given.

Dogs are not prejudiced.  It's one of their greatest character traits.

In the post-Klefti era, being able to walk to a playground with Purdey, tie him up, and play with the children while he looks on dotingly (if a little nervously - 'are you abandoning me?') is a new experience all together.  Purdey can do submissive.  Klefti couldn't.  If you are wondering what I do with Tatty, our ancient but intermittently energetic Westie, she stays at home (a small dog getting tangled in the wheels of a buggy is not a relaxing thought).

We brought a picnic to the playground.  Toddlers are great multi-skillers.  The girls walked around with their fodder, playing on the roundabout and somehow never wanting to sit down, nor getting indigestion.

The Tank climbed unsuitable piece of apparatus after unsuitable piece of apparatus (there should have been a sign saying 'play equipment unsuitable for under threes, even with fierce supervision'), while Magpie collected autumn leaves of every shape, size and texture.  She passed a curled and veiny specimen through the railings to Purdey, who was rather hoping for a bit of sandwhich.

He had to wait for The Tank to do that, who forced it through as if the four-pawed recipient hadn't seen food for days.

So have I finally mastered the art of multi-skilling with a multi-species family which has been sadly diminished?

Probably not.  But it's a good start.


  1. Love the pic! Girls (and sentry-like canine) are adorable!

  2. Hadn't thought of K standing sentinel, but it's true. So sorry he isn't around continuing to guard his charges! xx