As I was getting ready to leave on Saturday morning, Ollie was showing signs of interest in my preparations. He noticed that I was dressed and ready earlier than usual, and that I was packing things into bags. By the time I got around to picking up his food and water bowls, he was beside himself. Could he be going out somewhere? Was I going to leave him behind? He ran around panting, and sniffing everything I touched. And his expressive face portrayed the full range of his emotions; from excitement, to worry, and eventual desperation.
Then I picked up his large bed, and folded it to carry to the car. That was it for him. If his bed was going, then he was sure he was going too. He scampered around like a pup, displaying every possible sign of canine enthusiasm. For all he knew, he might just be going a few miles down the road, to walk in a different place. Perhaps an unwanted trip to the Vet, or somewhere completely new. But he was up for anything, as long as he was going with me.
He is very good in the car. He jumps onto his bed in the back, and doesn’t bother to look around, sit up, or show any interest in what’s going on. He lay down contentedly for a journey of over a hundred miles, looking surprised when the car stopped, and I opened the back. He has met my cousin and her family before, also her two dogs, the Cavalier Spaniels Jess and Dennis. But now there is a cat in the house, and within seconds of his lead coming off, he was chasing that up the stairs. He loves stairs. Brought up in a house on ground level, he sees stairs as a path to something new to explore, and will run up and down them like a child on a playground slide.
A walk later on introduced him to some new smells of the local Essex dogs, and he was frantically scent-marking accordingly. More people around than he is used to saw him attract attention from admiring humans, and lots of enthusiastic sniffing from new dogs he encountered too. Then he was back to trying to find the elusive cat, and wondering if he was going to be left behind in this strange house with stairs. In case I was about to do just that, he kept checking I was still in the armchair, and that the bags I had brought were still where I had left them. As we got ready to go and visit baby Violet that evening, he was unsettled for the second time in one day. But once I picked up his lead, he was his old self once again.
A short drive to the unfamiliar house provided him with the opportunity to meet new dogs, and to find another set of stairs to climb. A feisty Pug, and an excitable Cocker Spaniel pup, only six months old. The Pug was having none of this curly-tailed intruder, and barked and growled constantly at Ollie, who ignored him. He checked out the tiny baby, just a quick sniff to see what we were making a fuss about. Then he was off up the stairs, in case a different cat was lurking up there, waiting to be chased.
By midnight, when I went to bed, he had been on the go since 8 am. Riding in the car, rushing around strange houses, up and down stairs, and chasing cats. I put his bed into the kitchen, and he needed no urging to climb onto it, and sleep soundly all night.
It takes a lot out of a dog, a weekend away.