Wednesday, 5 September 2007


‘Won’t be long now,’ the Kennel's Receptionist said, ‘it’s just taking a while for the dog handler to get the harness on’.

‘Harness!?’ I replied, panicking slightly.

I knew that rehabilitating dogs that needed to be socialised due to mistreatment by their previous owners was a function of the volunteer role I’d devoted my Sunday mornings to; but I hadn’t expected to move on quite so quickly from the fluffy, gentle, dog that I’d taken out the week before. That dog had preferred cuddles and affection to any heavy duty walking and posed happily for photographs on request.

I braced myself for being dragged around the designated walking area by a large, bouncing, out of control Lurcher or an over excited, impossible to train, German Shepherd cross breed. After all, my services were offered to be utilised by any of the dogs in need, even if they were terrifying, almost as large as, and probably considerably stronger than I was.

I heard him before I saw him. Straining against his harness, his claws scraping and skidding on the smoother than smooth dog proof flooring. All at once he was handed over to me and immediately I was pulled out of the front door, the handler calling after me ‘He’s called Nelson’.

Nelson was knee high and not too terrifying, though he wasn’t an overly affectionate dog. In fact, he barely acknowledged I was there until he was satisfied that he’d marked his territory and I’d poop scooped that mornings deposit. Once we had bonded over his bodily functions he cast me a sideward glance and allowed me an obligatory pat on the head. Then we began Nelson’s winning combination of plodding about, alternated with more territorial marking along with the occasional barking at other dogs.

We carried out this routine at all four corners of the quadrant, keeping a safe distance from the other walkers as instructed. Other volunteers clung on to the leads of their wards and all around were rescue dogs pivoting their anchors, taking full advantage of their forty five minutes of freedom.


Anonymous said...

"...and all around were rescue dogs pivoting their anchors..."

I do not understand.
There are lead-free dogs that 'protect' walkers incase their wards act up?

Northern Creative said...

har har! i can see how you've become confused. i think i like your version better actually! basically, every single dog is attached by a lead to a human and all the humans and dogs have to be seperate from each other. the dogs know the score and are in the main uninterested by the humans. we just stand there, trying to keep hold of them while they run around. it's very rewarding though.

Anonymous said...

There is very little that I take seriously.
Misogyny and cruelty to animals are two that I take seriously.
I can see that this activity would be rewarding.
As you know, I love dogs.

I was blog-jacked.
I have a new URL now
Click my name above for the new address.

Anonymous said...

This post has been up almost as long as Nelson was a commander with the Royal Navy. Post something new before Nelson is struck down on the deck of HMS Victory at Trafalgar.

slubomirski said...

Yet again, a great piece of writing. I don't know how you do it - from the 1st word, to the last, you grab my attention and keep it. I am entertained and informed.

Northern Creative said...

stefan - thanks! i haven't forgotten about that collaboration of ours. have you any new images that i can look at for inspiration?

rhet - i couldn't let anything terrible happen to Nelson in Trafalgar so i've squeezed out another post.

Anonymous said...

Thank You