Saturday Morning with Coco and Freebie


Coco & Freebie ready for their Walk – photo by Pam Norman

Six bongs from the tall clock and, soon after that, our Man comes down to make tea. He lets us out in the garden, gives us a fishy treat, then back upstairs he goes. I know they’re still awake up there, because I can hear that little box talking to them. Freebie creeps upstairs on tippy toes but I can’t be bothered, I just curl up down here till our Woman appears.

Yay! Here she is. We look excited and pleased to see her – she likes that. Freebie goes bounding off through the kitchen to the back door – must be walk time. We fly round the garden a couple of times and try the odd yap and growl, just to let the neighbours know we’re still here. Our Woman checks the lawn, black bag in hand, then grabs the leads.

Into the back of the car we go for the short trip to White Bridge to meet with Millie the Lab, Millie the Greyhound, Chloe the Collie and Boswell the Spinone, the only boy among us, but he knows his place thank goodness! Great smells this morning, think they’ve been moving the cattle along here, so plenty of areas need inspection and our People are shouting a lot….

“Leave that alone, drop it, don’t eat that” that sort of thing.

They love to shout and we let them get on with it. It’s important to keep on the move, out of our Woman’s sight because if you hang around the Man that belongs to Millie the Lab, he often has treats in his pocket and doesn’t care if you work for them or not. Mind you if our Woman spots him slipping us something tasty, he gets shouted at too.

Squirrels need chasing, leaves need tossing around and Free needs a good goading to get her to play and charge about. It’s good fun, but really the whole purpose of the walk in my view is to get to the field for ball play. It works like this:

Our Woman throws one for Freebie, then one for Chloe, while I intercept one and hide it in the undergrowth. Freebie finds it and gives it back to our Woman and off we go again. It’s a routine we’ve learnt to perfection and it only goes wrong when a ball goes missing, hidden in the long grass or the hedgerow or occasionally chucked in the river and rushing out of sight with excited dogs hurtling after it. This sets everyone off, barking and shouting, it’s great!

This morning there’s lots of charging up and down and competing for the balls. At the end of the field, the cry goes up “Ball away” so we drop them at her feet – this always impresses the other People – and go for a drink in the river. Freebie is brilliant at this; she goes in really deep and when she comes out, she stands still and just drips till someone’s near then shakes enthusiastically – more shouting, hee hee!

Our People have their routines too, watching out for the Kingfisher, Swans, Ducks and Geese, Cormorant, Egrets and occasionally the Otters. Once we spotted a bull on the path further ahead and then we all had to turn round and go back the way we came. (I don’t know why Bull left his cows in the field and wandered about like that, but it put the wind up our People, I can tell you. The farmer came and sorted him out and we got treats for staying so calm – no sweat.)

The final phase of the walk is quite quiet, unless we pass other dogs and have to exchange a few sniffs, or need to do multiple wees on interesting patches of grass. Sometimes we can get Millie the greyhound to chase along for a bit or wind up Chloe the other Collie by pretending to fight – she finds that very agitating and confusing. Back in the car, we usually manage a further shake to leave our mark on the back window.

Home for breakfast and we’re ready to commence watch duties in the garden until it’s time for the afternoon walk with our Man. This is usually a longer trek, sometimes on the beach at Exmouth or up on Woodbury Common. A walk up the River Otter is still the best start to the day whatever the weather – you should try it sometime!


Coco the Storyteller

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