Floyd is not an early riser. When I get up, he curls tightly into a ball and pretends he’s still asleep. Soft touch that I am, I don’t make the bed until he gets out of it.
This morning, because he was snoring at the foot of the bed, I was able to pull it together and straighten the pillows without disturbing him. Or so I thought. Obviously, I had woken him because when I came back five minutes later he’d pushed the pillows off and burrowed under the duvet, the cheeky little sod.
Did I chastise him? Did I drag him out and send him from the room? No, I called my sister and said, ‘Look what your bloody dog’s done now.’
‘My dog?’ she responded. ‘It’s you he loves not me.’
‘Only cos I’m a softie.’
‘Yeah, and ..?’ she smirked.
Once the house had emptied – the kids heading schoolwards and my sister off to work – I took my breakfast into the lounge to watch the Jeremy Kyle Show. Floyd – now well rested and ready to face the day – appeared a little later. He sat at my feet, gazing at me longingly.
‘Come on then.’ I patted my thigh
Floyd bounced up and missed. He bounced up again. And missed again. The chair I’m in is a big, old recliner and he’s got very short legs. He appeared, then disappeared, then reappeared like a canine Zebedee until he managed to gain a purchase on my knee. I smothered my laughter with my hand. I didn’t want to hurt the little chap’s feelings but ha ha, that’ll teach him to unmake my bed.
The rest of his day was fairly ordinary with snoozes on the couch interspersed with trips out through the cat flap into the back garden – until everyone came home.
‘It’s your turn to walk the dog,’ my sister told my nephew.
‘Oh but Mum, it’s raining.’
‘I don’t care. He needs a walk.’
I looked at Floyd and, I may be anthropomorphising here but, I swear his expression said ‘No,no I’m OK. I really don’t want a walk.’ My sister wasn’t his asking his opinion though and she continued arguing with my nephew. Then my niece chimed in.
‘Mum, can we go and see if the river’s flooding?’ she asked.
Our river has already flooded four times this year and with the constant heavy rain we’ve had for the last couple of days, there’s a good chance it will do so again. My bizarre family loves it when the village gets cut off from the outside world by a raging torrent.
‘Oo yes, let’s go and see how high the water is,’ my sister said.
‘Oh bloody hell,’ the dog’s face said.
Down the hill we strolled, in the rain, with Floyd hanging back to the bitter end of his lead. The river was high but still within its banks. We stood on the humped back bridge, looked down into the muddy swirl and then across at the wooden bench that’s fixed to the riverbank by one leg. The bit that the other leg stood on has washed away.
‘Let’s go home by the river path,’ my sister said striding ahead, dragging Floyd with her. Niece, nephew and I followed on. Deep puddles stretched out in front of us. Floyd tried, he really tried, to circumnavigate them but within minutes he was wet and mud-caked to the shoulder. And so was I. I’d forgotten I come from a family of merciless puddle-jumpers until I felt cold water splash up the back of my legs. I turned around. My niece smiled sweetly and lifted her foot again.
Mercifully, Floyd had been let off his lead by now and he escaped the worst of the drenching as my family and I kicked water high into the air, aiming to soak whoever was in front or behind but, being so close to the soggy ground, he quickly came to resemble a mud pie with a tail.
Ten minutes later, in the gathering twilight, we crossed the river at the footbridge and made it to firmer, drier, higher ground. This unclassified, tree-lined and leaf choked road climbs high above the river and leads directly to our house. Floyd knows it well and he trotted along through the leaf litter with his little tail wagging. The central heating would be on when we got home. His dinner and a clean drink of water would be placed before him too. I could almost see the thought bubbles above his pricked ears as we marched home. It wasn’t until we got to the front gate that another thought occurred to him. I know it did because I saw him falter. I saw his back-end droop and his tail stopped wagging. He had realised he wasn’t going to get his dinner, or even free rein in the house until …
he had been given …
… a bath.
Obedient soul that he is, he sat still while the shower head sprayed warm water over his fur and washed the filth away. He didn’t grumble or growl as doggy shampoo coated him in bubbles. But those eyes. The look in those big, brown eyes …
Later, when he was dry and I was in bed, he came to my room. How soft-hearted am I? I lifted up the duvet, said ‘Come on then’ and patted the mattress. Floyd’s day ended where it had started – under my bed covers with his head on my pillow.
It is a dog’s life isn’t it?