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Dogs and Monsters

December 7, 2012

After the seemingly endless rain of this summer and autumn which has left the footpaths around the village close to impassable quagmires of mud, it has been a real pleasure to walk the dog over the past few days. The frosty winter mornings, with the air clear and cold and the ground firm underfoot have come as a welcome surprise. Admittedly, there are some drawbacks. Ensuring that you walk on the grass rather than the path itself which is now a sheet of ice that would challenge even Torvill and Dean, is one. Avoiding deeply rutted bone hard footprints that could cause a ricked ankle, is another. Apart from that, with sufficient warm clothing to repel the biting northerly wind, the walk is a treat, with superb views to the Pennines and the Hambleton Hills or over the Vale of York.

However, there is one necessary precaution that must be taken. That is to get the timing of the walk right. Not for my sake, but for Willow’s. Because if I don’t set off at the correct moment, we chance encountering the monster. And Willow is scared of monsters.

To put this into context, Willow is a large, powerfully-built black Labrador. Imagine the dog in The Omen and you’re somewhere near. You would think to look at her that she wouldn’t be afraid of anything. You’d be wrong. In fact, she’s a wimp. And the one thing that frightens her more than all others is the monster that terrorizes our village.

Mind you, looking at it from a dog’s perspective, perhaps her fear is understandable. Imagine if you will what she sees when the monster appears. It is huge – that is a given. Small monsters aren’t scary – they’re not even monstrous. But this one is. It has shiny green and black scales all over its immense body, and enormous pale eyes that light up when the monster is enraged.

And it isn’t only the sight that is terrifying. The monster hisses with pure evil, and at the same time belches out huge clouds of nauseous-smelling smoky breath. Worst of all, the monster eats children, devouring them voraciously. And who’s to say when the malevolent beast might turn its attention to other tasty foods? Dogs, for example. There’s logic in this reasoning, because the monster obviously doesn’t enjoy the taste of the children it has eaten. Willow knows this, as she has seen what happens. Several hours after eating the poor little ones, the monster spews them out again.

Despite her fear, we will continue to take the same route on our daily walks. All I have to do is to remember to avoid setting off around the time when the school bus collects or drops the children off. And possibly phone the bus company about the vehicle’s air brakes and exhaust emissions.

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