Our friend being busy, cooking us a healthy Sunday Lunch, his elderly mother having trouble with her feet, I volunteered to go walkies with Gable, the Batty Border Collie.
Armed with two black nappy bags, to tend to any doggy doo-dahs, I set out with Gable into the streets of the town. Gable and I are old hands at this. I give orders, he does what he likes anyway!
We crossed roads together, the retractable leash cord, tight as a whip, tearing into my tender skin. Fhina's just not cut out for manual work, you see?!
Finally, we attained the pleasant riverside. Green reeds aplenty to sniff about it to his heart's delight, Gable entered the Seventh Heaven for Dogs. We ambled through the trees scattering their leaves, me smiling benignly at fellow dog-walkers, and stopping to allow small children to run their claggy fingers through Gable's fine pedigree fur. Tiny chihuahuas gazed up at Gable as if he were some God of Greek Myth...
Passing the doggy doo-dah bin, I decanted the two filled bags ahoy. Task done, nothing more to take care of than watching the belligerent ducks float gaily by downstream, then return home for a hearty lunch. Result!
We cantered downstream like the ducks, I spotted a path across through the park and we took it. Girl and Dog. My fashionable beige mac rustled in the light autumn breeze.
A hundred yards or so further down the path, Gable decided it was time to go home, and stopped. Dead. Like a ship's anchor.
We turned back. Me reluctantly. He sniffing the verdant grass and then he hunkered down. The silent scream of "Nooooooo" echoed in my mind, and I tried to push him into the bushes. The warning bells telling of £1000 fines for owners allowing their dogs to foul the paths were ringing in my ears...
"It's not even my dog!", I pictured my self pleading to Judge Judy, standing sheepish in the darkened dock...
Too late. I looked about me furtively, and did what I could with dock leaves and other wayside detritus, meanwhile I was watching out for beady-eyed wardens, apt to issue on-the-spot fines to offenders, on such a popular Sunday afternoon promenade.
Scowling at her favourite dog, Fhina walked on.
We reached the stepping stones crossing the river, taking us home, to safety. And me to the Sunday papers. Kneeling to wash my hands in the clear running river, the dog's leash clamped under one knee, to hold him fast, I pictured myself tumbling head over heels, for all to see, returning home drenched to the skin, teeth chattering, chilled to the give-a-dog-a-bone.
Fellow dog-walkers scampered over the stones as if they were born to it, like Chinese acrobats. I decided to take the risk, facing my fears about not being so fleet of foot, head-on! Feel the fear, Fhina, and do it anyway!
I unleashed the beast, who gambled across the twenty or so stones as if I'd been a dead weight, halting his progress. I put one foot across to the first stone, then brought my other leg heavily over to join it. I'd made it! I could do this! Emboldened by my success, I forged ahead, looking at a panting Gable on the other side.
I picked up pace and moved forward, glancing up to see Gable darting back over the stones towards me - Yikes!
I stopped in my tracks as he ran past me, his Basil Brush tail swishing against my coat-tails. The black lab gambolling in the river behind me holding his rabid attention.
At that point, recklessly I thought "Sod it, and let him go play. If he gets wet, it's not my fault!" I forged on. Perhaps if I could make it to the other side, before he caught up with me again, I'd have reached safety and could get him back on the leash.
Before I could sense it, the splashing behind me stopped and Dog of the Baskervilles was heading back my way, bounding past me, and only just avoiding upending me into the stream by a whisker's breadth.
I caught my intake of breath, laughed into the crisp air, and chalked it all up to experience again... He did weight for me on the other side this time, thank God, and we made it home, me like the a James Bond martini, 'Shaken, not stirred'.
It might be a little time before I brave that walk again with Great Gable.
I still love him though!