MY wife Maria and I take our dog for a walk every day, but not usually wearing rubber gloves and carrying a dustpan.
(That’s Maria wearing the rubber gloves and carrying a dustpan, not the dog).
Lucky is 14-years-old and in recent weeks had got into a disturbing habit of licking parts that should always remain private.
Of course, animals lack inhibitions and will lick what they like, when they like and where they like. That’s all right in moderation.
But Lucky had been doing it far too much to be healthy.
I mean, a normal walk across the field took twice as long as she kept squatting down to administer to herself.
And really, you can do without such distractions whilst watching Come Dine With Me.
So we took her to the vet with some trepidation because I had looked up her symptoms on the internet, like you do, and discovered she could have almost anything. Especially as she was so old.
Fortunately, the vet’s diagnosis was reassuring and she is now fine after a course of tablets. However, it came with a rider.
“Come back in a week and we'll look at her again. And can you bring a urine sample?”
For a moment, I wondered why they wanted my urine sample.
“Oh. From the dog?”
Getting her to take the pills was easily solved by playing catch with slices of boiled ham. Mind you, it caused a little confusion in the fridge.
“Don’t use the ham for a sandwich. It’s Lucky’s.”
“Oh. Is it okay if I have cheese, then?”
And which is why, the day we were due to go back to the vet, we took the dog for a walk with rubber gloves and a dustpan, a Sainsbury’s carrier bag and a small sample bottle.
The vet had said, “A dustpan is usually the best way. As she squats, stick it under.”
Easier said than done.
Try that in the back garden and you get a very confused dog who is suddenly very wary of dustpans. Better to try it on her morning walk. Keep it normal. Sneak up when she isn’t looking. Keep her on the lead.
Lucky squatted, Maria swooped with the dustpan and we had first time success.
“Hold out the sample bottle,” she said.
“But you’re the one wearing the marigolds,” I said. “I just have my skin.”
“Don't be soft.”
So I held out the bottle and the sample was transferred, the accoutrements put in the carrier bag and I don’t think anyone saw us. Because, I mean, while it may all be very necessary it’s a bit of a daft procedure to try to explain.
We went home and gave Lucky some more boiled ham and I made myself another cheese sandwich.
A walk always gives me an appetite.
Nice cheese, too. Gouda.
After the first bite, Maria said, “Did you wash your hands?”
I looked at the dog and the dog looked back at me.
“Fancy a cheese one, as well?” I said.