I’m very lucky in that I live less than five minutes away from a large Common. This is where you will inevitably find me, once a day, whatever the weather, walking or running with my black labrador Sam. There are times, when the temperatures are sub-zero, or when the wind is blowing a gale, that I’d really rather not have to face the elements but then I gaze into those labradorial eyes and I know I can’t let Sam down.
It’s great once I’m out there though. It gives me the space I need to clear my head, think things through or simply day-dream and it connects me to nature and the passing of the seasons. It also connects me to the wonderful, regular dog walking community. There’s Treacle, the dalmatian and her Mum and Dad, old Jim and the last in line of his rescue, ex-racing greyhounds, the trio of terriers, Bella, Suzie and Stan and their owners, a pair of old friends who always walk together. Then there’s Cookie and her Mum. Cookie is a lively whippet who was recently rescued by her Mum following the loss of the much-loved Biscuit. Biscuit was a whippet/lab cross, she was one of the loveliest dogs I’ve ever known. She was actually much older than her personality would have led you to believe and one night she died peacefully and unexpectedly in her sleep. We all miss her very much. *
Out on my walks recently I’ve noticed a new phenomenon, strange fruit has appeared, hanging from various branches scattered around the Common. This is dog poo in a poo bag left hanging in random places. What the hell is that all about?!!? What do the people who do this think it achieves? Do they think there’s some kind of poo bag clearing , magic fairy? THERE ISN’T! It’s going to take years for those stupid bags to deteriorate. A friend of mine, who lives in a dog walking hotspot, tells me people are forever hanging full poo bags from her fence. I’m seriously flabbergasted, who does that?!!?
The Surrey Wildlife Trust have initiated a programme of returning some of the Common to heath land. I bow to their superior knowledge but it hasn’t half made a mess. They’ve been using massive machinery to cut down loads of trees and remove the trunks. The ground has been left scarred by cavernous tyre treads and the work has churned up an unbelievable amount of mud. I can’t believe it’s going to recover in a hurry, but ultimately it’s good to know there are organisations who actively manage and care for our beautiful and valuable countryside.
Sam had a big operation recently which meant he had to wear a cone and was off games for three weeks. I found this quite liberating to begin with. I could get up in the morning and put on nice clothes without having to consider mud, the weather, dog slobber. But pretty soon I realised I was missing being out on the Common. I went for a run on my own but it didn’t feel right. I was missing my dog, I needed Sam. He’s responsible for getting me out every day, come rain or shine, he cheers me up and he gives me his love unconditionally, well, as long as I feed him, he is a labrador after all.
*names have been changed to protect identity