The Endless Amazingness of People. Not in a good way.
There is a local dog. We will call him Pistachio, because he is a nut. We will call his owner Mr Pistachio, because he is also a nut. The dog probably can’t help it. . . .
A few years ago, when the first Pistachio sightings were made, he was kind of a nightmare. His owner, of course, let him off lead at the earliest opportunity, and he used to do laps at extreme speed . . . wherever he was. Rec ground, schoolyard, park, cricket lawn, someone’s garden, street, wherever. If he met another dog on his peregrinations, all the better: he would invite it—or, possibly, them—to join him. And he wasn’t good at taking ‘no’ for an answer. To do the twerp credit, he was never the least bit nasty, and even Darkness, who has a fairly low tolerance for strange dogs getting in his face, never reacted. I reacted, however, because Pistachio is getting on for large*, and while I object to any all-over-you dog,** having something about the size of one and three-quarters hellhounds using me as an obstacle course is not popular. This aside from the getting-plaited-by-on-lead-hellhounds aspect. Hellhounds would have been happy to make Pistachio eat their dust, but I am a fierce evil ratbag hellgoddess, and I keep my dogs on lead in all but ideal circumstances.***
Pistachio, however, has slowed down a lot. In hindsight my guess is that he was a somewhat late rescue adoptee, and the early mad pelting was in reaction to having a home at last rather than late adolescent puppyness. When we see him now, he saunters along, deigning to wave his tail in a vaguely friendly manner, but there are rarely dramas. We saw him today—on the same stretch of path that we met the unpleasant specimen who chased us back into town a week or something ago.† This is a designated footpath but it’s also an unsurfaced road, and there are two houses at the end of it. It’s barely a lane wide, and you have to plaster yourself and your dog(s) against the wall to let a car by.
As we came down the hill to the unsurfaced lane, we met Mr Pistachio. Pistachio himself was a vague little spot at the far end of the track. Behind him there was a car. Er—there’s a car, I said to Mr Pistachio. I know, he said. She went down to the end and turned around. And he giggled, like this was terribly funny. Um. She’s lost, it happens. Mr Pistachio went on to the end of the track and started up the hill. I looked at Pistachio, making a quarter of a mile an hour maybe down the middle of the road, and the car behind him. I couldn’t scratch my head because both hands were full of leads. Hellhounds and I retired to a wide place before the wall starts, and prepared to wait. And we waited. And waited. As Pistachio ambled a doggy zigzag with a car helplessly following. Oh, come on, Pistachio, said Mr Pistachio genially. Pistachio did not come on. Pistachio strolled. Pistachio mooched. And Mr Pistachio stood a few steps up from the bottom of the hill and did nothing.
Pistachio waved his tail gently as he went by. As the car behind him passed us, the woman said thank you to me—as we stood out of the way and watched the scene with our jaws dropping. Well, my jaw was dropping anyway. We were standing there a good two or three minutes. I think if I was driving a car stuck behind a moseying dog whose owner is doing NOTHING to get it out of the way I might at least have had words to say as I went by the accountable human . . . particularly since I would have had plenty of time to think of those words.
But I don’t think she did. When the track widened out she could get past, and she did. Pistachio pootled up to his owner and they wandered off together. Eeesh.
* * *
* Although large does vary. We hurtled past a little family group about a week ago, and the nine-ish-year-old boy said to me eagerly, Are those Great Danes? Um—no, sorry, they’re whippet crosses. As we streamed on by, I could hear one of the grown-ups of the party explaining that my guys were much too small to be Great Danes. A Great Dane would come up to your chest, he said. A Great Dane is the size of a pony. A Great Dane is as big as that car over there.
Unfortunately at this point we were hurtling out of earshot. I would have liked to hear the next comparison. A Great Dane stands as high as the St Radegund bell tower! A Great Dane leaps over tall buildings in a single bound!
** Some exception made for puppies. Some. They need to learn not to all-over people before they outgrow being cute.
*** This is in fact one of the additional things I hate about irresponsible jerks who let their dogs run loose in public spaces. My guys would love more opportunity to hurtle off lead . . . but I’m not going to risk it, and I’m also not going to unleash hellhounds on an unsuspecting public. Hellhounds are quite capable of leaping up to lick your face from a standing spring, and they take sudden inexplicable likings to bemused strangers often enough to keep me alert. But it is so unfair when other dogs have more fun because they have bad owners.
Yet another run in today with a known pernicious quantity. Some strutting male human with three spaniels. I think they’re gun dogs—the four of them together have a kind of shadowy aura of guns and beaters and dead things. And my guess is the one who has to go for the hellhounds every time he sees them is an entire male who is boss of that little pack and has to prove what a big guy he is every time he sees another entire male.^ The human is perfectly well aware of the situation and he does call the bloody animal off—but he does so in that same All Things Fear Me Because I Am The Man way that he swanks around generally—and he doesn’t bother till his hormonal buddy has had his rush and growl.
I was thinking today that this has now gone on long and often enough that I’ve begun thinking of something to say that I can memorise in advance, coherent thought in the heat of confrontation not being one of my skills. This will nonetheless not go well. Some scrawny old broad taking him to task? Brace yourselves. The earth may tremble on its axis.
^ Should I be specifying the entire male is one of the spaniels? The accompanying human has so much of the same testosterone arrogance.
† Whom we saw again today. On lead. He slunk by, pretending we didn’t exist, and while hellhounds stood six inches taller than usual—we’d again prudently withdrawn to a wider bit of path—and watched him very carefully they allowed him to slink past without challenge.
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