These days when you take the dog out for a walk you need more props than a magician’s assistant.
The daily 90-minute blast around the park with our 18-month-old lurcher Walter is inadvisable without the following:
1. Poo bags (x10) because people who don’t pick up after their dogs should have their noses rubbed in it. Poking bits of poo that have come out the back of someone else’s dog from the grooves of your trainers with a stick after you’ve stepped in it is nobody’s idea of a good time.
2. A plastic tub full of cheese cut into little squares. For as long as anyone cares to remember dogs have been motivated exclusively by food. In emergency situations (when Walter’s chasing a nervous medium-sized dog over the horizon just for the LOLs) food is the only thing that stops him in his tracks.
3. A big whistle. A last resort because have you got any idea how stupid you look blowing that thing like a terrified referee who’s lost control of a match after the centre-half’s stamped on the opposition striker’s head and in retaliation he’s tried to take his head off his shoulders with his elbow first chance he gets? Still, it saves you from yelling your dog’s name when they won’t come back because they don’t agree that it’s home time. Works every time – 80 per cent of the time.
4. Some sort of ball. Ours is yellow and attached to a foot-long piece of rope. On a good day and with a following wind it can be thrown around 50 yards while Walter tears after it like, er, a dog out of a trap. Twenty sprints later and he doesn’t much feel like doing a runner anymore. Also a useful bait to waggle under his nose as we walk past an outdoor café full of people eating lovely food at lurcher height.
5. Dogs around the same size and with a similar degree of lunacy as yours. Lurchers play rough, especially with big dogs who are up for a bit of sport. One of Walter’s best friends is a Labrador and they spend every Friday morning charging around the park, chewing each other’s ears and faces until one of them yelps and they have a time-out.
6. A nice comfy jacket so he doesn’t get cold. And some people say I spoil that dog.