Barking Blondes: Clogs, couture collars and country vs city
We took a trip to the north coast of Norfolk this week. It was difficult to know who was the most inappropriately attired – us in our wooden platform fashion clogs or our two bull breeds in handmade designer collars. We looked a strange urban quartet stumbling over the cliff tops, exclaiming loudly “Oh sea! Ooh sand! ….OMG turf!”
Matilda the bulldog, in a red leather bow tie, wheezed her way enthusiastically ahead of us. As we turned the corner she had cast a wonderful silhouette on her back, legs in the air wriggling with sheer joie de vivre.
Molly, the miniature bull terrier, however, clad in wet t-shirt to keep cool, did her terrier thing and ran away. “Molly!” we screamed. Then louder: “Molly! MOLLY!!!!!”
We had completely lost sight of her as she hurtled over the horizon. Peace in this tranquil Norfolk bird sanctuary was shattered. Elderly couples in shorts, binoculars hanging around their necks, appeared from behind hillocks and frowned. Nice, healthy people walking nice, calm, healthy labradors avoided eye contact with us.
A fisherman doing something odd with fish in a bucket looked up. “Have you seen a bull terrier in a purple t-shirt with a zebra patterned collar go by?” we asked.
His stare spoke volumes. We stumbled on, regretting our clogs .The countryside is full of peril and our city slicker mutts seemed to have no sense of survival.
Suddenly a pheasant shot out from under a beach shrub followed by an exuberant Molly.
Naturalist Chris Packham has been in the press this week concerned over the domestic cat and their effect on urban wildlife. His take on bulldogs and coastal pheasants doesn’t bare thinking about. You can take the dog out of London but you can’t take London out of our dogs. They behaved like a pair of yobs on a day trip to Benidorm.
Do country-dwelling dogs have a better life than those in a city? The advantages of rural climes are obvious. Fresh air, large gardens, homegrown veg and probably cheaper vet bills (our vets’ celebrity-studded waiting room often resembles a night in the Groucho). Do country dogs still sleep in a kennel in the yard like they did in Beano? Are they offered a wider choice of smells and comfier rides in four wheel drives stacked with wax jackets?
We stopped for tea, following our cliff top escapade, in the local tea gardens. NO DOGS was the welcoming sign on the gate. We tied them up under a tree, where we could keep an eye on them and where they slept, exhausted from the novelty of fresh air. And then something very interesting happened. A local farmer delivering rhubarb, pulled up in a jeep with his beautiful, working gun dog seated in the back. As the driver went indoors, his dog caught sight of our two sleeping mutts and started to kick off. Standing on the seat and barking aggressively, it was obviously stressed and unhappy with stranger dogs within its eyesight. Our two continued to sleep. Matilda raised one eyelid to see what the commotion was then carried on snoring. Molly didn’t even acknowledge the barking.
Town dogs have so much stimulation and socialization that very little unsettles them. Police sirens, buses and traffic are part of their everyday. In the course of one week the average town dog will have sniffed the backside of over fifty passing pooches. Gardens are a luxury. However, the choice of smells from dropped kebabs to hookah pipes to royal parks is enormous. There was a time when breeders and rescue centres wouldn’t allow you a dog if you couldn’t offer a good sized garden. This has changed. As our vet says, it doesn’t matter if you live in a cupboard as long as your dog is exercised, loved and mentally motivated every day. Is the dog trotting along country lanes any happier than the poodle we often see in a bicycle basket being peddled around Trafalgar Square?
Survival for dogs and humans in a city is a challenge. It is far from routine but there is always room for fashion statements. Collars or clogs.
‘Barking at the Moon’ is on Thursdays from 10pm until midnight on BBC London 94.9 FMTagged in: barking at the moon, barking blondes, city, country, dogs, pet care
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