It was a bright and sunny morning yesterday, although quite chilly. So we decided to wrap up warm and take the dogs for a walk at Rushmere Park near Leighton Buzzard. Saying merely 'let's take the dogs for a walk' isn't as simple as you might think. Just saying the word 'walk' and both our dogs, Poppy and Alfie, know what we have planned. Merely touching their leads, which live on a shelf in the kitchen, and all hell breaks loose. So we have to plan things carefully and not mention the word 'walk' in their presence. Alfie becomes like the Tasmanian Devil in all those Warner Brothers animation shorts. We can't take him out in the car without first putting the cage in the back first. I had to go out with this as it's been parked in the front hall for months whilst Carol side-tracks Alfie by going to get dressed in the bedroom upstairs with the door closed. Once the cage is installed in the back of the car I pick up Poppy, or at least I attempt to as she seems to be under the impression that she's done something wrong. She shoots upstairs to be with Carol but I eventually manage to pick her up and put her on the front seat of the car and leave her there. She is not as excitable as Alfie at the mention of a walk. Meanwhile . . . Getting Alfie to settle down enough in order to get his harness on is a real nightmare as by now he's become a barking and wriggling mass of hair, tail and teeth. He keeps wanting to bite at the lead, so we have come up with the technique of avoiding eye-contact and walking away from him when he starts barking. This has the effect of calming him down so we can get his harness and lead on. We bought both dogs harnesses recently which means if they pull when on their leads they don't put so much strain on their necks.
Alfie jumps into the back off the car and into the cage without any bother, thankfully. He seems to enjoy the ride in the back of the car, perhaps realising that he's going to enjoy the walk when we eventually get to our destination, around a 15-minute drive down the A5. Poppy, meanwhile, sits on the back seat and watches the world go by outside with a real air of enjoyment. Alfie makes a rather feeble whimpering sound from the back of the car, almost as if he's singing to himself. It's rather sad and pathetic, but none the less better than having him spinning round inside the body of the car and getting knotted up in his lead and maybe causing real havoc with our driving of the car. It's certainly a good deal safer and on long journeys he can fall asleep in the cage.
It's really busy at Rushmere. We haven't seen so many cars parked or people about, many of them walking dogs like ourselves. You have to pay £2 at the barrier as you leave. I presume a barrier prevents large vehicles entering the car park and hopefully paying the charge to park pays for the up-keep of the facilities and probably goes towards the wages of the staff such as the wardens that work there.
We manage to get the dogs out of the car, although Alfie makes so much noise that everyone will be aware of his arrival in the car park. It's a good place to walk dogs as there's plenty of paths, not too muddy as it's on the Greensand Ridge so it's mostly sandy, but there are some patches of mud which attract Poppy as for some unaccountable reason she simply has to wade in and get herself covered. We let both dogs off their leads. Poppy just meanders along besides us as we walk along, but Alfie races ahead and simply loves the fact that he can run free. He doesn't walk straight ahead but runs backwards and forwards, cocking his leg against every available tree and kicking up leaves and loose earth as a sort of sign of excitement of it all. We meet up with quite a few other people who have dogs with them. Poppy just approaches, wagging her tail and being friendly, but Alfie dashes around like an animated mop, and causing hilarity amongst those we meet along the patch. He isn't in the least bit daunted by the size of some of the dogs he encounters. He may be small but he's a brave little dog and everyone seems to love him. It's easy to see why. Poppy also has some admirers but she has the habit of jumping up when she meets someone and it can cause problems when she's plastered in the smelliest and stickiest mud which she will unfortunately leave on people's clothes.
There is a cafe which we had considered going into to have a drink of coffee, also toilets which we use, but we decide that we'll go home and have coffee there to save money. But it's good to have all these facilities and so load the dogs back into the car and drive back home to Milton Keynes.