The young pup walked on two legs for the first five minutes, bouncing and tearing at the lead. I try not to let him pull but everything is exciting and bright and new when you are four months old. Tonight we took half a step forwards, three sideways and about four backwards as we made prancing progress down the lane. In my other hand the precious, ancient collie was marching to her own beat, slowly examining each weed and crack in the walls. I was in the middle: trying not to get tangled up, managing two poo bags and stopping the pup from knocking the old girl over. This was not as easy as it looked! We got to the concrete stile and both dogs needed help: the one too old to climb over and the other too young to know the trick. After the stile, we crept past the garden of the Old Rectory where the scary dog lives and out to the fields. Skittish black cattle watched us pass and huffed softly. The rooks were tumbling back to their roosts and a young tawny started to call.
Once off the lead the pup stayed close, investigating everything. The ancient girl followed steadily, as she has all her life. Failing eyes and ears now mean that she often gets lost and panics; I checked back often.
The nearly-full moon was up and it was dark as we reached the big meadow. The cattle were on the far side and so we took the footpath around the edge, stopping to investigate the huge rabbit warren and adjacent badger sett. Neither dog noticed the rabbits flicking their tales and disappearing into the thick hedge. There was a strong scent of fox as we crossed the small orchard and walked up the track beside the farm. It had been raining all day and the lane where the cows pass was thick with mud. As we turned towards home each dog was trotting neatly by my side; I love having two dogs!