Ollie’s Mexican standoff.

Today has been miserable in Beetley. If you didn’t have a calendar, you could be forgiven for not realising it is August, as it is more like March. The day started wet and grey, and stayed that way. It was even chilly enough for me to need a coat when I went out with Ollie. (Though I still wore shorts)

The grass was wet over on The Meadows, but luckily the rain had not been heavy enough to bring back the mud. I wandered around for a while, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I headed over to Hoe Rough to give Ollie more to explore. Nobody was about, and there were no other dogs for him to sniff, or to run around with. One of those days when I could happily have headed home, and written off the walk as just another dull trek without inspiration.

After just over an hour, Ollie made his way to the path that runs alongside the river. I guessed that he had warmed up enough to need a refreshing dip, and a long drink too. He scrambled down the bank into the water, and I took position against the wire fence nearby. He walked around in the water for a bit, exploring over to The Meadows just in case any other dogs had appeared. Seeing nothing, he just stood in the water up to his belly, looking more than a little fed up.

Suddenly, three swans glided gracefully around the bend. A large male, a smaller female, and another that seemed to me to be the offspring of the pair, tagging along behind. Seeing Ollie, they stopped dead, less than six feet away from him. He stood and looked, and they looked back. He made no attempt to approach them, even though he was obviously interested and watching them intently. The male flapped its considerable wings, but my dog remained unimpressed. I thought that they would turn back, and that would be it.

Ollie looked across to me on the bank, and back at the three birds again. He wasn’t going to move, that was certain. I smiled to myself, wondering how this dog and swan version of the traditional Mexican standoff would end. He was outnumbered three to one, but seemed unconcerned by the weight of numbers. The male swan emitted a strange noise, and flapped again. Ollie had a small drink, and carried on staring. They had one route to get past him, close to the other bank, and separated by a large clump of weed. The male swan checked this out, and as he moved, Ollie suddenly ran through the water after him.

With a raucous honking and flapping of wings, the big bird crashed past the dog, finding sanctuary behind him though still just a few feet away. The smaller swans were making squeaky noises, apparently calling to the male. When he didn’t return to help, they took their chances by using the same route. Ollie let them go. He was never going to hurt them in the first place.

But he wasn’t about to give ground to them either.