One of the many joys of owning Milou, an American cocker spaniel - and the dog of my life - is that once we were away from a main road, he could be let off his lead - he'd explore but he never went far - always keeping an eye out for me. He'd wander about Gorbio village whilst I had a coffee in the bar and he loved walking in the hills above the village, amongst the olive trees and the wild thyme - especially when his best buddy, Candy, was visiting from America. My Milou went to doggy heaven a couple of years ago and I miss him still.
When I adopted Beau from the refuge in April 2006, the furthest thing from my mind was the word 'walkies.' I just got sucked into the look in his eyes and how needy he was. And he was. Once home and following three weeks on antibiotics, he had to have both eardrums removed - 4 and half hours on the operating table. It took a year for him to get reasonably healthy but still - every four months - he got massive abcesses below each ear. Things are better now and since July, he's not had another abscess and that's because they've never quite healed - each day both sides drain just a little. The vet suggests this is a good thing and I agree. It's a simple matter to wash the areas each morning - far better than painful abscesses for the poor dog.
So when it came to walking - and I did take Beau on several walks soon after the swelling had gone down and the stiches were removed - what did he do? As soon as I let him off lead, his long big beautiful nose went down and off he dashed into the undergrowth. Beau is a Bruno de Jura which is a Swiss hunting dog - bred to hunt, bred to follow a scent. Fortunately I was with a friend when he ran off and we managed, between us, to get him back. Since then I tried a couple of walks with him on an extension lead which wasn't much fun cos he'd dive into the undergrowth and the lead would get twisted around twigs and rocks and he'd need to be rescued. Now he walks on a normal lead, albeit quite a long one, with me getting dragged into the woodland everytime he wants to 'follow his nose.'
And then suddenly things changed. Some of you know I have several photo blogs. One of them is Menton Daily Photo and I decided to photograph the Promenade le Corbusier which goes from the point of Cap Martin all the way to Monaco - a walk and takes about 2 and a half hour each way. It has to be one of the most gloriously beautiful walks in the world and you can take the walk with Beau and me on Menton Daily Photo in January. It occurred me to me that perhaps Beau wouldn't run away on this walk because in the first place, it's right by the sea, so hopefully no wild boars about, and secondly, it's fenced on the inland side of the walk - ie all the beautiful houses and gardens protect their wildly expensive properties with wrought iron railings. So off we went. Beau had a breakthrough - and so did I.
I must go - from the terrace I see the sun shining over the sea - and Beau wants a walk. So do I.