My dad was always present during my long, dog related ramblings but i doubt he was expecting a hundred mile car ride on his only day off. I am sure i could have woken him up from a drunken stupor and he would still come up with at least 20 things he would rather be doing, fifteen of which would have been from the top of his head.
Not that he was a guy that would choose to stay in bed all day. Even during the cold winter ( yes... Greece does get cold from time to time) he often took us for long walks along the harbour or for light treks across the neighbouring mountain.
He was in his early fifties, and even after a long week ( and so many decades) of hauling chunks of untrimmed meat and dealing with every customers peculiar demands, on a Sunday morning he would joyfully release his head out of the pillow’s soft velvety crater.
He might have seen it as an opportunity for a family day trip, a chance to visit a corner of Greece which had been left unexplored, but there is no doubt he was aware of the four legged responsibility that would be yelping and whimpering on our way back. I will never forget how the crate (those portable one’s that are equipped with a handlebar) danced under the soft glow of the passing streetlamps, gently emerging from it’s dark cloak before turning once more in to an obscure mass of perforated plastic.
The breeder seemed to be unfamiliar with the modern day convenience’s that Google Earth has to offer, which resulted in us going around in circles while his voice echoed faintly through the phone’s speaker. We stared aimlessly out of the rolled down windows, as we searched for the “old bridge”, the “abandoned shoe factory”, the “dried up river”, slowly realising that the picture the voice was painting in our heads was bleak and sorrowful and, although it was never spoken out loud, we all felt that if the events where unfolding differently then perhaps we would have considered ourselves mad for trying so hard to reach such a desolate location.
Who would have thought that a field of grass would be neatly tucked away under that crumbling slab of cement... A testament to nature’s ability to flourish in the absence of humans, and a dream come true for every moviegoer with a soft spot for the post-apocalyptic genre. But what was even more absurd was that about thirty dogs of the very same breed where prancing all around us. A silly thing to complain about. Much like visiting that massive M&M shop on London’s Leicester Square and asking for a box of after eight’s.
The man whose voice belonged to was tall and burly and after a brief chat with my dad he ended up snatching a puppy out of the litter. To be honest i was expecting a bit more to it, and for a brief period of time i wrongfully assumed that there was a sinister motive which prompted him to give with such eagerness that puppy away.
Those tiny little welps that cried for his mothers warmth where now mine to nurture and care for, but still... a hip deformity or a sign of problematic behaviour that could have only been seen by an experienced eye where thoughts that lingered in my head long after I had introduced him to my disapproving cat.
Ten and a half years have passed and he is as jolly as he has ever been.
There is an abundance of parks scattered all around us, and when those won’t do we will visit stores, bookshops, coffee shops and all sorts of other places that would normally be out of bounds for a dog bestowed with a more restless temperament. He is no small dog, but his docile nature always finds a way of shining though, and before you know it he will be venturing behind the cash machine or inspecting his way through corridors and stairways under the loving gaze of both customers and employees.
But now our walks have gotten smaller, and even though he gets just as excited at the prospect of an excursion, there are times when he will need a tiny bit of persuasion if he is to get himself out of the door and on to the dusty Athenian pavements. I still haven’t told him about Edinburgh and I do not think I ever will, as I have seen how he longs to find himself on a soft patch of grass and such stories would do nothing but make these winding streets seem all the more barren.
Wolf is resting next to my feet as I am writing these lines, letting out sighs of relief for the thick autumn clouds that are shielding him from a sun that over the past four months had turned the city in to a scorching glasshouse. His nozzle is now pointing straight at me, gently letting me know that it is about time we got up. It won’t be long before he softly begins to whine and I will find joy in his restlessness.
It’s time for us to leave, as I sense that the slightest movement from my behalf will make him spring up from the hard marble floor and head towards the door.
He hasn’t aged a day.