Nowadays it’s de rigueur to offer a warning, for those of infirmed sensibilities. Friends, this is that warning.
A light summer eve breeze tumbles off of the wavelets in the estuary. Samson has been itching to go for his evening perambulation. From four pm he’s been agitated. Having snoozed the day on his dining room plush cushion it’s time to walk. Dogs, if anything, are creatures of habit.
At seventeen years old, he’s an old dog. Rescued from a refuge at ten, he’s living out his days in luxury. He’s had vet visits galore. Overall he’s in excellent condition, though showing his age with a little arthritis in his right foreleg. He needs his daily exercise, and in his dog mind he knows it.
Along the beach front, scrambling through the rocks he finds the remains of a cormorant carcass, I’ve tried to keep him away from for several weeks. He’s already had the head, and now the desiccated remains are irresistible. Grinning, with his prize in mouth he bounds away. I don’t really chase him, what’s the point of chiding him, he’s a dog and I don’t want the carcass. He’s happy and loved.
Together we climb the overgrown grassy slope to the concrete footpath, ahead we see a lone pedestrian. Samson trots along five yards behind me, with his lopping gait. Head bobbing up and down, tail wagging, he looks kinda comical to me. Approaching is a slim middle aged woman, decked out in de rigueur training gear matched with swanky off grey joggers. Tres chic. I glance without comment. She passes at socially appropriate distance, avoiding the each other’s gaze. Then she approaches Samson. I momentarily glance around, then she says something which I don’t quite catch. Politely I retrace my steps to better hear her words, against the steady breeze.
“He’s in pain,” I hear her repeat as I approach.
“Can’t you see he’s in pain.”
“Oh really,” I retort, “Do you think he’d be ambling along tail wagging if he didn’t want to go walking?”
“I’m an animal lover,” she says by way of explanation, though I couldn’t be less interested in what she claims she is.
“Well, he’s on arthritis medication daily, seventeen years old, a rescued dog and his vet says to keep him active” I offer. My voice is stifled. I hear her accusation, feel the need to justify my apparent neglect of animal welfare.
“Yes, but I’m an animal lover,” she bleats again.
I lean in, into the sacred personal space to hiss,
“And it’s none of your fucking business.”
Getting the dismissive turn away just right, whilst managing to sneer the ‘fucking business’ more or less over the shoulder, is quite an art.
I resume the walk with,
“C’mon Samson, off we go,”
He dips his head, to trot off, not having got the lady pat he expected.
I wonder how I might have better managed the turn and comments as I move away.
Then it comes to me. A slightly longer dismissal sentence is needed, practised so its never delivered in anger.
Maybe a little deeper penetration of the personal space.
The breeze clears my brain and then it comes to me.
Lean in, lock eyes, pause,
“And, sweetheart, it’s none of your fucking business.”
Feels so much better.
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