The road that runs through the Home Farm of Waddesdon Manor can be a bit of a pain. It bisects the fields, after half a mile or so and when you are out for a walk with the small dog, it means attempting to catch her to make her safe, or leaving her on the leash until it has been crossed. Being spring and with so much young wildlife around here, I left her attached today.In some ways this turned out to be a good thing. In others…
Now leaving her attached is all very well, but the five metre leash takes some managing as she dives and wheels and ties your legs in knots for the slightest thing. To Ani, the world is brand new every time she sees it. A bee can be a major game of chase.…she is full of joy, wonder and things that simply have to be investigated right now!
Thus it was that she dragged me down the bank of the pond so she could launch herself into the water. This being the same dog whose antics, if you mention a bath, would win her an Oscar for tragic acting.
Now this is all very well through winter, and even acceptable in early spring, but the nettle beds are getting high and I can foresee trouble ahead. I may have to wear boots and thick leggings all summer. In fact, fishing waders might be in order… The joyful beast splashed around for a while; I, dangling on the end of the forgotten leash, balanced precariously on the end of the tiny, rotting jetty. She was having fun, but before long decided it was time to move on.
We didn’t get far, of course; the pond goes under the road and she just has to investigate the other side too. A sudden flurry of water as we approached and a family of tiny ducklings swam out from under the bridge. The small dog’s stance changed. She shot me one look, which probably translated as ‘WTF?’. Then launched herself right into the middle of the pool.
As she did so, the ducklings lost themselves in the reeds, but Mum, ever watchful, dived out from beneath the bridge, shot past Ani like a champagne cork and proceeded to defend her babies. Very defensive, ducks, you know. Part of me was fascinated… this little duck was cleverly kicking up the water with wings and feet, dashing across the surface of the pond to disguise all trace of her ducklings’ passage while distracting the potential predator. It really was amazing to watch.
The ‘predator’ seemed rather taken aback and could be heard to emit small, confused whines. She has a real love of tiny creatures… babies of all species bring out her maternal side. She is one of the few dogs I would dearly love to see with a litter of pups were there not so many unwanted dogs in the world.
Clearly she should be chasing this thing though. You could tell she was aware of that. But you got the distinct impression that here was a creature who only wanted to play, while the object of its attention was very serious indeed about repelling boarders. It was a fascinating glimpse into another world.
Meanwhile, the other part of me was clinging to the leash grimly and digging her heels into the soft mud of the bank. Ani had launched herself into the pond without giving either her trajectory, the length of the leash or the two-legs dangling on the other end the slightest bit of thought. It wasn’t too bad while she was poised and confused. It was when she decided to give chase that we had a problem.
The duck was fine.
Did I mention I needed waders? Let us add a wetsuit to that equation…