Blood and Bone 

It is hard work being Archie, and even harder work being attached to a 24 foot lead that is supposed to control him.

This morning we arrived at the park and he leapt out of the car with Lucy, ready to conduct the first of his twice daily tours. Something, however was very quickly revealed to be amiss. Rather than the expected clear, green sweeping vistas, his view was rudely interrupted by a shiny snaggle-toothed monster. It was a huge, uncompromising metal beast and it was heading towards a completely different area of the park.

Nevertheless, Archie is not a dog to let clear and present lack of danger affect his judgement and he launched into a full offensive to defend his pack against the onslaught. What he did not realise at the time, was that this beast, this roving threat, was going to transform his stomping ground from a mere exercise area into a smorgasbord of delight.

Lucy is far calmer about vehicles – almost too calm, so I slipped her lead on whenever the park maintenance vehicle was nearby, which was often as it was doing circuits. A few days earlier, a tractor had been around and around the field, moving slowly as spikes moved up and down and punctured the earth. Now it was time to feed the grass, and this is what today’s ute, with its huge frontal attachment delivering fertilizer from a huge tank on the back, through multiple spray heads, was doing.

I managed to get Archie onto a slightly raised level on the park away from the ute’s immediate circuit and for a while he forgot about his nemesis and contented himself with exploring. The rose bushes that are in this section of the park, around the war memorial, have been pruned right back and that makes life a lot easier as he darts back and forth across the beds. Normally I have to try and notice before he does it and try and divert him, or I am dragged through the rose bushes tearing at my clothes – or worse, my skin – before he invariably doubles back and twists the lead around the grafted base of a gnarled rose bush.

Not only were the council maintenance guys feeding the grass, they were emptying the bins, and the sight of a second truck criss-crossing the field was almost too much for Archie, but eventually he was persuaded to let it go and we finished our walk with both dogs intact.

This evening of course, peace had been restored, but that did not mean I could let my guard down. Looking at my phone instead of my dog, I vaguely registered that Archie was not moving quite as fast as normal. I looked around to see him eating mud. The park had been sprayed with blood and bone fertilizer, which has basically turned his entire exercise area into a giant snack.

Looking after your pack may be hard work every now and again, but there is always an upside if you are a dog, especially if your name is Archie.

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