My Mum spends a lot of her time walking dogs and knows a lot of people on the dog walking circuit.
It starts in the morning when an old woman walks past our house on the way to walk her son's dog with a luminous green woolly hat plonked on her head. Later on she sees this lady and her husband walking their own Jack Russell and the old gent invariably bends down and says to Scamp 'Now then, you little devil'. When Scamp had his op my Mum had an interesting conversation with him about how in the olden days shepherds used to do lambs, as he used to work on a farm. It wasn't very nice and involved spitting things into a bucket.
Because Scamp is a very lively dog my Mum likes to take him to play with the Boy Racers of the local dog world who will tire him out. They usually congregate on the hill at 10.30. There is Jack, who is part bull terrier. He is a very lively dog indeed, who can knock people clean over but is a rescue dog whom his owner has persevered with which my Mum finds admirable. He frightened Scamp at first, but now he has grown up a bit is more of an equal match.
Cindy is the fastest, fittest dog on the circuit who can reduce Scamp to a quivering, prostrate wreck who just wants to go home. This is because the little terrier is owned by a retired man who regularly exercises her while riding a bike. Although retired he wears an earring which my Mum finds intriguing.
Zak is a huge alsatian who is owned by an oil rig worker who, when not on the rigs, walks him up to seven times a day. He has grown up a bit now and is not as playful, but is regularly teased by Scamp. When this goes too far Zak will pick Scamp up by the scruff. He has never show any signs of viciousness but once growled at the husky whom he saw walking along and apparently trades insults with from his back garden as they live on the same street.
When my Mum walks on the water works fields she regularly sees a lady who owns five red setters who are a magnificent if daunting sight as they bound along. When my Mum first saw them she said to the lady 'You seem to like red setters' and 'They must cost a lot to feed' but the lady must have heard this many times before because she looked a bit cross and said 'Well, they are my one luxury and I don't smoke or anything'.
The local dentist has just moved which is a shame as he had two Afghan hounds which we used to see walking about. His wife was very pretty but she was very tall and slim with quite an aquiline nose and long sandy hair and regularly wore a light brown suede jacket with lots of long feathery tassles on it floating in the wind, which just confirms that old adage about the appearance of dogs and their owners.
On a Sunday afternoon in the park at 5.30 you will see a middle aged gentleman with dreadlocks followed by a motley collection of rescue dogs tottering along very slowly in a stately procession. These are dogs that would never have been given a chance if it wasn't for this kindly gentleman. One of the dogs is blind and deaf and has to be permanently on a lead or he would get lost. However, he regularly sniffs the air as if to take in the scene. Some of the dogs wander off course and have to be retrieved.
It turns out that he is an art teacher at the local school. My Mum found this out as she was walking across the Common and some school kids said to her 'Are you Mr Thompson's wife?'. My Mum had to confess that she didn't know what they were talking about but it transpired that one girl had seen my Mum talking to Mr Thompson in the park though why she thought that my Mum was wife to a middle-aged hippy I have no idea.