This morning I woke up much earlier than the rest of the people in my flat. I say "people" because Tenie had come over for dinner last night and some massage therapy and didn't feel like walking home. So, she stayed the night. Hermione seemed anxious to be up this morning, so I got up fed her and Roscoe and decided to take them for a walk along the cycling path. I took Mr. K's cane since mine still has not arrived, and headed out with the thought that I'd let Roscoe run leash free. That way, I could use the cane, keep Hermione under control and Roscoe could still come along; tiring him out for Mr. K.
It wasn't particularly early-around 10-but I figured the paths would be empty since most people would be at work during this time and the kids are going back to school tomorrow. I've walked this path probably close to a hundred times now and it's not all that busy during the mid morning. I don't worry about Roscoe off leash as he's quite friendly, well socialised and knows to stay out of the path of cyclists, but his over enthusiastic greetings seem to be a bit much for the majority of the UK population. It's something that I've noticed before and still can't figure out: dogs here-and I am generalising-are not expected to greet people while they walk by or to play with other off leash dogs.
Personally, I think it's impressive that people can walk down a path and their dog, for the most part, ignore the other dogs on the path. The trend in North America seems to be that dogs meet and greet others around them and then carry on their merry way. Not so much here.
The first part of our walk went pretty well. Roscoe greeted a few other dogs, but usually stuck near me. I think he felt responsible for me even though he wasn't working. He's not my guide dog, but he takes himself very seriously and he shows signs of concern for my safety as well as Mr. K's. There would be times when Glacier and I would fall behind, or get cut off from Mr. K and Roscoe due to crowds, and Roscoe always stopped and waited for us without Mr. K even needing to say anything. So, I think this sense of responsibility may have been at play during our walk this morning.
He found a few dogs to say hello to whose owners didn't seem to mind and he stopped to greet a family with a small child. He is a larger Labrador, but incredibly gentle and the parents took the time to help the child pet Roscoe in order to demonstrate that big dogs are ice.
As we carried on, I was beginning to become concerned at the amount of people on the path. I thought about leashing him, but we were at least a half an hour's walk from the flat and fighting with cane, Hermione and Roscoe just wasn't something I was excited about. We continued on a bit further, Roscoe running ahead and always returning to see where I was; Hermione hopping along on her leash. We came across a man with another Black Lab who seemed a bit put off that Roscoe wanted to play with his dog. He explained that his dog had been attacked on the weekend by a Pitbull and that his ear was very injured. I called Roscoe back to me and had him sit, waiting for the man and his injured but leash free dog to get past us.
I think when out using public spaces such as those, people have a mutual responsibility to be respectful of the other people and/or animals. I didn't mind having Roscoe sit and wait until they had passed, but I think it was the man's attitude that sort of irked me. He acted as though that because his dog was injured, all other dogs should leave him alone despite him running free and engaging the other dogs in play. If Roscoe had some sort of injury I was concerned about, or Hermione for that matter, they would stay on leash to minimize any damage and accidents that could occur. It's not someone else's fault if my dog is injured and I let him/her run free and their dog wants to play with him/her.
Anyway, maybe he felt badly about being sharp because he told me to make sure I stayed on the pavement when walking because there were lamp poles in the grass that he didn't want me to walk in to.
After our little encounter with Mr. Grumpy/Helpful, I started to rethink my overly ambitious good deed of the day. As we moved away, I released Roscoe and he took off like a shot in the direction I was walking. He had been panting pretty hard and I guess I shouldn't have been shocked when I heard a gigantic sploosh from the other side of the path. All I could do was laugh. Here I was, trying to do a nice thing for Mr. K and the one thing he hates the most happens; smelly, wet dog.
I called Roscoe back, but by that point there was nothing I could do. He was soaked from the top of his head right down to his tail. I don't know if he fell in or dove in, but he was dripping wet and so stinky.
Between my walks with Hermione and some of my runs, I have been down that branch of the path numerous times, but I was completely unaware that there was water down there. The worst part wasn't that he went swimming, or wading or whatever he did, the worst part was the smell. The water must be stagnant and so the stench coming off of Roscoe is something else.
After his little dip, I put his leash on and just dealt with the difficulty of using a cane and walking two dogs at once. I put Roscoe's leash around my waist and that seemed to make the whole thing a bit easier. Considering how badly he smelled and how wet he was, I wasn't about to let him go running down the path to greet people and get them soaking wet and stinky. Goes back to that mutual respect thing.
Luckily, Roscoe dries quite quickly and he was practically dry by the time I got home. I toweled him off and laid a towel out for him to lie on. He still stinks something fierce and I haven't quite decided what to do about that. I could either give him a bath, which I really don't want to do. He sheds so much and bathing him in our bath tub would be one giant pain. I've also thought about running over to the Azda nearby and picking up some dog specific anti-bacterial wipes and dry shampoo in the hopes of getting the stink off of his fur; and whatever is causing the smell.
Whatever I decide to do, something needs to happen because my good deed of the day has gone very stinky.