I've never had a dog. I've never wanted one. But my daughter's first words were 'doggy' and we had a lovely neighbour called Wendy who had a lovely dog called Bailey.
About five years ago we started walking Bailey. Once or twice a week, we ended up taking Bailey on walks around our house in Bath. We walked to the park, to Brown's Folly, up Solsbury Hill but most of all down Charlecombe Valley. We entered a doggy world where people talk about their dogs and are so dog-like that they are one step away from sniffing each other's arses. I especially liked the slightly anxious owners who had rescue dogs. I always asked them the story of their dog and they always loved telling it - it was like a free trip to the dog analyst's with a Dickensian venality added to tie things down. And just as you had anxious owners, you had anxious dogs. You could see the worry lines on their doggy brows.
Isabel and I walked Bailey after school when she was younger. In summer we'd eat ice cream and in winter we'd sit at the top of the valley, have cake and hot chocolate and throw a ball for Bailey to fetch. It was a lovely memory of a lovely place but time moves on.
But then Isabel changed schools and we stopped doing those walks quite so ofter. The geography of where we live changed when that happened. My wife started walking him more and sometimes we'd go together during lunch breaks if I was at home. Then, a couple of weeks ago Wendy moved and took Bailey with her. So we don't walk him anymore. We don't go down Charlcombe Valley quite so often. We don't take the dog around the allotments or up Solsbury Hill or up to the park. Suddenly a great chunk of the world we used to inhabit has shifted. Sad but life goes on. It's funny how that happens.
The pictures above are from the last walk with Bailey. We make the path by walking the dog and all that. Oh well. Not flatlining yet, but I'm getting there....