You give an inch and they take a mile. As soon as Dan the Man leaves the door ajar, they come crashing through with no regard for my health or need for tranquillity.
Let me first say that the Lockdown has been the answer to dogs dreams, everywhere. For once in our short but busy lives we are being given the attention and nurturing that we deserve – long overdue when you consider our undying loyalty to our imperfect, if not sinful, owners.
We’ve had walks every day – sometimes two (any more than that is overdoing it) plus plenty of pats, a little grooming here and there, regular worming and flea treatment - and meals we can count on, at a regular time.
We are, after all, lovers of ritual: we like things to happen in their proper order, as part of a routine. This last couple of months the humans have become unusually predictable, which takes a lot of stress out of a dog’s life.
Well, I can see it is nearly over. First, the fishermen turned up early Wednesday – about six hours after Dan let them out - and they’ve been coming and going along the river ever since. It was peaceful without their pesky outboards; more visually pleasing without their hi-viz vests.
Then, on the weekend, the visitors: the city cousin comes bouncing into the house without so much as a lovely-to-see-you and heads straight for the kitchen bin. Then she sniffs around the table, licks my bowl (leaving her germs ready to kill me) and flounces around in that saucy swagger of hers as though she owns the place.
That takes her half a minute, then she stands at the back door barking, so she can get and have a look around – scouring my domain for my old bones and anything else of interest that she can steal, eat or roll in.
Talk about an ill-bred lack of manners. She doesn’t want to see me – she just wants to settle into my patch, take what she can and nick off back to Melbourne.
I’ve heard The Boss talk about her type. He’s often remarked on how his city friends and rellies drop broad hints about having “a nice weekend in the country” but they only invite him down to Melbourne for a barbecue lunch or dinner. And expect him to drive back home afterwards – anything other than put him up for the weekend.
He’s learned from that, I’ll give him that. He’s adopted the same technique in recent years.
“Come up for lunch,” he’ll say – and they look astonished, as though a day trip to Shepp for lunch is like going to the moon and back.
“Can we stay?” is usually the question that follows. But he’s managed to be ready to head that off.
“We were thinking just a Saturday lunch,” he says. “We’ve got a few things on the rest of the weekend.”
But he doesn’t head it off completely. The persistent city dwellers can say “Oh, don’t worry about us – we can make ourselves comfortable and rustle up something to eat. We won’t get in your way.”
Now he’s ready for that too – in an increasingly blunt tone, it seems to me.
“That’s not going to happen,” he says with some finality.
He reckons it’s the last he’ll see of them for a year, at least.
Bring back the Lockdown, I say. Woof!