Vicky Ewan: I wrongly assumed a love for walking would be inbuilt...
- Credit: RebeccasPictures/Pixabay
I am certain our new puppy has an internal clock with which I am growing all too familiar.
And it cares not a jot for high days and holidays.
Assuming the dog has had enough stimulation and exercise through the day, she will doze right through the evening, shuffling from one side of the sofa to the other, and plopping herself down with unnecessarily dramatic flumps.
And if she hasn't, woe betide us! She is like a whirling dervish, hurling herself around the lounge as though she is experiencing some kind of demonic possession, nipping everything within reach, and driving us all demented with her wild-eyed antics.
If we remark upon such behaviour, intoning her name in tender reproval, we are met with a reproachful side-eyed stare that is almost immediately extinguished by sudden somnambulation.
She snoozes so lengthily of an evening that I am constantly convinced that she will not sleep through the night.
Of course, as she is our first canine companion, I am woefully ignorant to the parameters of dog dozing; once she has roused herself for the final time, completed her toilet, and returned indoors, she meanders to the bedroom and throws herself either into her bed or into the space on the floor next to my side of the bed, and drifts off again.
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And there, as far as I am concerned - being deeply asleep myself - is where she stays.
Until her spookily consistent wake-up time.
No matter what hour she chooses to crawl into the land of nod, her awakening is consistent.
Sensing restlessness, I surface from slumber, propelling myself with groggy intent towards full consciousness as she snuffles and snortles herself awake.
I twist my head clock-ward and, even in my bleary-eyed state, I can already predict the first of the figures that unwaveringly meets my gaze: 5.56am.
Next to me, my husband sleeps on, blissfully oblivious to that indifferent red numerical trio blazing brilliantly on the alarm clock's screen.
Heaven forfend I should see the number six at the beginning of the line. Ever.
One recent Sunday, this precise scenario unfolded itself.
I had been hoping for, although not optimistic about, the possibility of staying a little later in bed.
I had been to church with the two youngest the previous evening, and was relishing the prospect of snuggling down under the duvet and letting the world carry on in its own sweet way.
Alas, Miss Pup had quite different ideas; 8am saw me showered, dressed, and standing in a local car park a little distance from home, waiting to clean up after our dog and take her on walk number two. Or, rather, number one: The Reboot.
She demonstrates a profound reluctance for moving away from the house, rendering us obliged either to carry her to an unfamiliar place - an increasingly challenging undertaking, as she is growing by the second - or else driving to a destination and taking a stroll thence.
Thankfully, she enjoys the act of walking, snootling around in the fallen leaves, sniffing strange scents on the ground and on high, and stretching her gazelle limbs alongside my sturdier pair.
The morning in question was no exception; her 6am walk had led us in relentless semi-circles from front door to back and vice-versa; north, south, east, west, home clearly was the best, and she wouldn't budge.
I eventually admitted defeat and we went inside, somewhat dejectedly.
Before becoming a dog owner, I had - clearly naively - assumed that a love for walking would be inbuilt, and that I would merely be the vessel, facilitating the pursuit with artless aplomb.
An abashed internet search revealed that walk-reticent canines are not uncommon; specifically, with puppies, there can be a mistrust and fear of leaving the home, that place of refuge and treats.
We will need to exercise protracted patience, employ boundless encouragement and provide treats a-plenty in recognition of any signs of effort. In the meantime, carrying her increasingly bulky form to a scent-free patch, or driving some way away, must suffice.
During our early-morning perambulations, as the dusky dawn sky lightens and the moon and starlight fade, you will see me trawling the streets of Torquay, hefting a dog-shaped lump in my arms.
And even though the hour is positively indecent, and far too close to six for comfort, I could think of worse places to be.