Mad Dogs and Summer’s End

It’s Sunday again, blogging day; the summer vacation is almost as over – or will be by midnight tonight – and I’ve found myself thinking, Hmm. What have I done this long hot sultry summer? In terms of targets, what have I achieved? (What have you achieved?) What grade would I get for Not Having Wasted Time? (What grade would you get?)

I suppose some of you have done lots of travelling. Lots of trips to the seaside. Swimming. Healthy sports and outdoors activities. Day’s outings to beauty spots. Picnics. Barbecues with friends and family …

To be  truthful, what I’ve done this summer has been largely influenced by Bruno, the sloppy mongrel puppy I rescued from an animal shelter way back in January – adorable, helpless little thing. Then. Now he’s almost ten months old and full of unbelievable energy. I only discovered recently that he’s not a mongrel. He’s a Belgian Malinois. Hadn’t even heard of that breed before. Didn’t even know he was a breed. The staff at the shelter classified him as a mixed breed. Hmm. If you look up Belgian Malinois, then you’ll know what I’m in for!

Okay, so what have I achieved this summer? Or if not achieved, at least done?

There was the usual holiday stuff, like the better-in-retrospect week in Corfu. And there were the three weeks when the family-gang came over from England, which turned into rather an obstacle course in terms of keeping Kids away from Dog and Dog away from Kids. They both freaked the hell out of each other, resulting in lots of squealing and running round madly and yelping and howling and often I couldn’t tell who was doing what! The trouble is, the 4-and-5-year-olds are still small and cute, whereas my former puppy … Nope. Bruno the Malinois is more like a bloody great whopping hormonal brute now. But loveable, really.

So, what else have I done?

Dog walking, dog training (sod that for a laugh!), dog disciplining, dog bribing, dog begging, dog yelling, dog cuddling-and-all-is-forgiven (after chucking out the remains of the chicken in orange sauce that my beloved daughter slaved over and left unattended for two minutes…), dog tug-of-war (which is fine when it’s a stick, but not so good when it’s your knickers that he’s pinched off the washing line) and … yeah. More Dog Stuff.

And café crawling and chatting to beloved daughter, who is SO wise for a 21-year-old, as well as beautiful and perceptive and excellent at giving advice (Mum! You can’t wear that!) and a creative cook, which is why we haven’t starved since Philosopher-Hubby-Daddy abandoned ship almost two years ago.

Then other stuff, a bit gentler and more meditative, like playing the piano (though Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat is hardly gentle – you have to have the muscles of a Belgian Malinois to play certain parts of it), and keeping in touch with people, which is a euphemism for tweeting and facebooking and messaging and scrolling and wasting lots of time; and writing, of course – where would I be without my blogs and diaries and novels? And reading …

Ah, reading! Escaping into the wonderful world of fiction! Yes, that was the main part of this summer for me. Sitting out on the veranda and reading (and chasing the Mad Malinois away from the roses), or sitting up in bed in the morning and reading (and ignoring the Mad Malinois’ whining from downstairs for me to come and play – he’s already been let out in the garden for a wee, so can’t he wait at least another FIVE MINUTES, for fuck’s sake?), or sitting on the sunbed in Corfu and reading, where there was NO MALINOIS!!! My wonderful son kindly offered to whizz over from London and dog-sit for the week, and promptly fell head over heels in love with Bruno. Both dog and son practically cried when they parted. Then Bruno looked up at me with those eyes of his as though to say, Are YOU going to take me for an hour each day to the Common and let me run around like a demented monster to my hearts’ content? (Answer: some bargaining is needed here, my love. For a start, stop eating my sandals.)

I reckon my overall grade for activities this summer should be C. Satisfactory, but perhaps a little more effort needed. But at least I should get an A for reading. Nine books in all! In fact, I might share my thoughts on them in my next post.

And btw, talking of reading, the influencer @Nora.Reads posted a review of my novel on her Instagram channel yesterday. Feeling dead chuffed! And no, my book is not about dogs. It’s about love and trauma and sex and freeing yourself from the shackles of the past … NOT from the shackles of your dog.

So, whether or not you work in education and are able to relish these long summers, the first of September spells a kind of ending and beginning to all of us – end of long languorous summer days; beginning of chillier temperatures, and the slow steady roll to murky autumn days and crisp winter mornings …

But not yet, please not yet … still 21 days of summer left, right?

Anyway, time to clear up the mess Bruno has just made with the rubbish bin while I was upstairs in the loo. Yup, he’s learned how to open the bin. And now he’s totally worn himself out from naughtiness and contrition, and has cuddled up on the floor by my feet and fallen fast asleep. Ahhhh … wish you could see him now, bless him. That’s the thing with love, isn’t it? When you’re thick in the throes of it, it’s so easy to forgive!

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