How our dog hates us going away.
The minute a suitcase comes out, he’s stricken with anxiety. He sits right by it, doleful eyes watching us pack, silently willing us to fit him in there, along with the just-in-case jumper and the toiletry bags.
Had he a voice, he’d be saying, “Don’t forget me, I beg” in wistful Adele tones. Sometimes, he actually rests his head in the case.
I could make some fatuous and highly insensitive joke about spies and North Face bags at this point, but surely that would be highly insensitive. You’ve got to think about that poor chap’s family. I imagine they will never be able to look at a sports holdall again.
Back to Harry, our hairy, holiday-phobic hound. As we load up the car, invariably we find he’s quietly waited until our backs have turned, then silently and sneakily squeezed himself in somewhere. He’ll either be concertina-ed into a teeny space in the back of the estate or curled into the tightest ball in the passenger seat footwell. Harry Houdini, eat your heart out.
And of course, when we can take him, we do; stopping in pet-friendly places, the three of us walking our hind legs off every day, shine and more usually rain, poo bags in pockets.
Though we draw the line at the expense of a doggy passport and turning into those sort of people who never, ever go anywhere without being leashed to their pooch. Plus it’s nice to get away from the responsibility sometimes and bung him in kennels.
Though then, of course, there’s the leaden weight of guilt to contend with. Just as you did when you became a working mother and started dropping your baby off at nursery, you drive away trying desperately to convince yourself he’ll abruptly turn off that pitiful wailing as soon as you’re out of sight.
Actually, I think I fret more about Harry than I ever did about Boy. See, the dog’s had a difficult life. We’re his fifth owners; he’s been passed from pillar to post like a poor little foster child.
No one was to blame; neither him nor his previous owners. He loved; he was loved. But circumstances got in the way of each relationship; namely, and in this order, illness, allergy and emigration. He had to keep moving on.
Much has changed, I’m glad to say; he’s made himself at home. For draught excluder, read sofa cushion. Then the suitcase comes out and reminds him of past goodbyes.
We went away this weekend feeling comforted to know that our neighbour was planning to pop to the kennels - which are just across the road - to take Harry for a daily walk.
On our return, he couldn’t wait to tell us how it had gone. Each afternoon he’s been met by a frantically wagging furball of delight (and that’s just the guy who owns the kennels). Our Harry has trotted off with him on his walk up the lane, as you’d expect.
Each time they came back, though, the dog would run straight past the drive to our house, straining at the leash to be taken back to the kennels.
He would rush in with sheer delight, then bark his head off to announce his return to new-found chums.
Now we know the score, we’ll be playing it differently next time. We’ll tell him we’ve managed to get him a reservation at the Dog Hotel; how lucky he is, and how sad we will be, sitting at home without him.
Obviously, we won’t get the suitcases out til he’s gone.