Fred has two types of walks those on the lead and those off the lead, this morning was an on the lead walk. On the lead walks are generally into town and at the moment the favourite is to the end of the pier and back which is what we did earlier.

The council are replacing 24 groynes on the beach, this is £2.8 million of government money to upgrade the sea defences to the town. The existing groynes were put in place in 1963 (a year after I was born) and 1973 and have reached the end of their lives.  A walk along the sea front into town at the moment takes you past several hundred yards of wire fencing and machinery. In fact, the sea front on the side of the town where we are is totally dominated by 5-6 huge orange 360 diggers. The sea front parking full with vans and trucks and every vehicle says Mackley. The yellow and black lettering of the civil engineering contractor is everywhere. It occurred to me that many of these groyne posts can only be installed when the tide is out and I wondered if they worked under flood lights at night. I stood and watched the works for a bit and could see workmen down on the waters edge working in a pool of water with the sea only yards away from their feet. Fred is investigating every corner, every fence leg, finding out what been going on in this area of sand and generally oblivious. Me I don’t know what I’m doing, just on some kind of mental tick over looking at the piles of wooden upright posts. I am looking at the scale of task being carried out; how massive the posts are with metal tips attached to the points of these huge uprights. I can see an array of interchangeable attachments laid out on the ground used on the arm of the diggers’ and thinking to myself that one must be for holding and pushing the post down into the ground. Why have they needed to take out that notch in all those posts. I am really absorbed in their tools and see chainsaws and notice a pile of very short posts which I am concluding are the off cuts from posts put in place that are too high.

Then it dawns on me that this working team are waiting for us to move through. I realise that a digger has stopped work and is waiting for me and Fred to pass as they need to lift and fuel tank from the beach over and across the pavement and onto a flatbed lorry in the road. No one shouted at us, or told us to get the F=#k out of the way. I walk through yanking Fred, dragging him along resisting every step. I wave sheepishly at the driver of the digger who nods gently back as if to say OK glad you worked out what was happening in the end.


1 Comment

Tonight’s walk was in some ways the antithesis of the one described in the post before, and again it was dark in the evening in the woods. This time the ‘incident’ happened early on and involved other dogs, not with people. I was the one who over reacted this time, not Fred.

I met a guy sitting on a fallen tree who said, ‘There is an Alsatian and a Husky ahead with my son’

I asked, ‘are they friendly, and play with Fred here?’

‘No don’t worry they are Ok, the Husky will be fine’.

My interpretation of that statement as a dog walker is, the Husky probably won’t be fine!

He went on to explain he was waiting here for his son to come back with the dogs, as he had a swollen knee which was painful and he was not walking well today. He told me he had been a motor cycle racer, who had a serious crash where other racers had ridden over him when on the ground. He went further to reveal a lot of sensitive personal data (GDPR) about his physical health as a result of this crash. By now Fred had found the Husky and the Alsatian and a three-colour snarling ball flashed by: White, Black and Ginger Fred being the ginger part. I felt this ‘play’ was turning into a fight, and started to put Fred on his lead. The son said, ‘he is only playing …… I think’.

I had already decided his Husky was fighting and not playing. As this was a formidable pair of snarling dogs I thought it time to exit Fred pretty sharpish. I said good bye and walked away with Fred who might have been described as over excited. We walked on for quite a while, Fred pulling very hard, and I had hoped the incident was behind him. I did the same as the last walk and let Fred off the lead. He sprinted off ahead quick as lightning, and I saw him start to arc away through the trees and bushes back behind me. I could no longer see him and immediately concluded he was running back to continue the ‘tear up’ we had just left. I thought these two dogs would fight together and Fred was going to come out of this damaged. I ran hard to catch them up. I called out loud ‘Fred’s following you’. ‘Fred’s catching you up’.

I had reached them before Fred, he was not there. The man said ‘What’s happened have you lost him?’ The son said, ‘No, here he is’. I could see Fred in the distance running along the path towards us. He had been doing his own thing and was not even interested in these dogs.

I had totally over reacted and misread the situation. Fred was fine and enjoying his walk, I was puffed out and stressed. Totally the reverse of yesterday.

I relaxed and enjoyed the walk and the sun set. I particularly noted the low orange light which really made Fred look an amazing colour. There is a pigment called Sinoper from Turkey which classical and renaissance artists used for drawing and under painting. This earthy orange is Fred, and the contrasting green of the field we sat and rested in made me think I should be painting.

I have been making green drawings for several years now. All my drawings are green. In response to fields, trees and open green spaces I find myself drawing. Now; by adding this earthy red I hope I will be able to get out of the green rut I feel stuck in.

Orange and Green: Can I even allow myself to be so minimalist?


I have been watching Fred while we have been walking together. He has been made very differently from me, and his interpretation of his world is very different from mine and it is hard to understand his behaviours. We project our own values onto dogs and judge them according to our wants and desires.

We have recently returned from a break away from home and Fred was not included in our plan. He was to be looked after by a ‘Host’. Shall I just say things did not pan out the way we had planned and since returning I have tried to understand his world a little better.


Anyway: back to walking where I can see Fred is not comfortable walking alongside busier roads, large loud lorries, noisy fast cars upset his equilibrium, and he becomes unsettled and behaves erratically and would, I am sure jump out into the road at them in some sort of confused reaction to what he is experiencing.

We had a long walk in the woods last night just before dusk and by the time we were on the return leg of our walk it was quite dark. I do know the woods very well I have ridden my mountain bike and walked two dogs in these woods for something like 15 years and getting lost is not really a concern, though the dark does reduce confidence and unnecessary worry creeps in and anxiety wafts over me. I tell myself I know the way and I don’t have a getting lost problem. My imagination creates other scenarios:

3-4 Roman soldiers walk out of the trees ahead of me? Are they friendly or will it be a confrontation?

Red Coats with muskets and bayonets sitting on fallen trees, as if hiding in the woods from Napoleon’s army. Will the dog draw unwanted attention to them? A Cavalry Officer rides out in front of me to block my path.

I can see Fly Agaric mushrooms (the red ones with white spots) which have bite marks, possibly made by rodent teeth. Squirrels somewhere totally off their heads? Would birds or even a fox eat these, what does a tripping out blackbird do?

Next is a suggestion of a troll or a giant amongst the trees lurking, watching possibly setting his sights on dinner?

I hear bird noises like I never heard before, surely these are unseen Red Indians.

Fred all this time has been on his usual quest searching, sniffing, scurrying in the undergrowth, running off, coming back. Stopping to eat a bit of grass and then race off to explore a rustle or flutter. The only change in his behaviour would seem to be that perhaps his forays away from the path are not as far from me as they might be in daylight.

Then I hear voices, in the distance I would say at least three. Then a little later I see moving lights and I guess these are mountain bike trail riders with lights on their helmets.

I call out ‘Hello – walking with a dog’.

I don’t know where Fred is I can’t see him, but I know he has in the past chased mountain bikers and cyclists. I need to make these guys stop, so I can get Fred on the lead before he follows them I don’t know how far? There he is, captured for half a second in a frozen silhouette with a white line all around him as the lamp light lands on him. His Stance reminding me of The Monarch of The Glen by Edwin Landseer, defiantly in the middle of the path. The riders do stop when I explain Fred might chase them and I need to get him on the lead. Meanwhile Fred is running from the first cyclist to the third, jumping up running up to the next, then running back and forth, back and forth. I manage to grab his collar as he careers past me at high speed. He wriggles and twists but he is under control and the trail riders move on saying, ‘We thought he was on his own for bit’. All is well and they pedal away.

Fred has had a meltdown, frenzied jumping and twisting. He is panting very hard and seems unable to put the experience behind him. I sit on the ground and try to distract him with dog treats, but he can only pull as hard as he can on the lead in any direction it does not seem to matter which way! The rest of the walk is tense, a race to somewhere, anywhere in a straight line, just fast. No walking to heal, no treats, no stopping, no sticks go go go!

After about five minutes of this I decide to let him off the lead as an experiment. He won’t sit or respond in any way, still panting furiously. I let him off to watch what happens!

He trots off more chilled than I expected and starts his forays into the undergrowth just as before. By now we are nearer the car and I wondered if he knew where he was, as he was bolder with his runs in what is dark now. I put him back on the lead and the uncontrollable pulling starts again. When the car is in sight he slows down and the lead is slack and he seems more relaxed.

We are back in the car and he is panting wildly.

Was this a tantrum at being restrained or headlong panic?

As for myself, I was agitated all the time nothing was happing and reacted calmly to the incident, while Fred seemed very comfortable all the time nothing happened and then flipped at the incident.