Wednesday 12th July
No editing for a couple of days. Not a deliberate decision, but it just did not happen. Other things have got in the way, that’s all. On Sunday we noticed that Tim kept disappearing into the hedge that borders the field side of the mill stream at every opportunity, and when I say disappeared, I really mean it. The “hedge” is taller than me and who knows how wide? To follow the small tunnels made by foxes and the like, I’d need a machete to slash through the bramble spikes and thorn bushes, and a plastic suit to prevent the poison ivy stings. Then there’s the stream in the middle – how deep? Deeper than wellies? Or just mud and sludge where the reeds have taken over?
A day or two before this I walked Tim around the wilderness corner of the garden near the bonfire. It is the other side of the hedge I have just described, and because two streams meet there it is often too wet and muddy to risk bogging the tractor down when the rest of the grass gets cut. So he stood there in the long grass like a pointer, staring into the far corner where the streams meet. Then he barked. Long and hard. He wouldn’t go near, so being me, discretion took over and we retreated.
So to Monday afternoon and our walk around the lake. Coming back to the house, Tim suddenly races off and does a right turn into the farmer’s field which is greening up nicely after the hay has been cut. Races alongside the hedge and then turns sharp left and out into the middle of the field, flops down and all I can see is his head and the line of his back. I whistled. I called, he ignored me. Was he hurt, injured? Had a snake bitten him? (There are snakes. Tim disturbed one in a ditch once and it lashed out and bit Bill in the calf, but with no dire results.) Thinking an adder might have bitten him, or he’d broken his leg in a mouse hole, I set off across the field in my wellies.
Two hundred yards later, when I was within ten yards of him, he looked up, a bone dangling from his jaws. Then he leapt up and danced away from me, flopped down again. I followed him. Same thing repeated. Again and again, he ran ten yards and went back to eating.
Furious calls of "Tim!" brought Bill, who approached from the other side but with the same result. What looked like the leg of a bird – duck, chicken, heron? – had evidently been killed, possibly inside the hedge and now foxes were carrying the bones onto the field to eat them. Tim was scooping up the still bloody left overs. We couldn’t catch him, and there's nothing more annoying than a normally obedient dog who comes when you call than a dog who wilfully disobeys you; we got so annoyed and frustrated we abandoned him and went back to the house. Within two minutes of our disappearing from view, I heard the tinkle tinkle of his name tags as he raced back across the field towards home.
We kept him on the lead for the rest of the day, because he has figured out that he can escape from the enclosed garden by going up the steps, along the garden strip above the pool and down and out through the gap at the other end. Then he’s free to explore all of France if he fancies it.