When we lived in England, we lived near a river. It only took us about half an hour to walk to it from home and going there was one of my favourite walks.
This particular day, it had been raining a lot. When we arrived at the river, we could see it was flowing very fast and was a muddy colour. It was usually only a foot or so deep, but it was probably about six feet deep on this day.
My biped said it was flowing too fast for me to swim and so she kept me on a very long lead. This meant that I had enough freedom to clamber down and get my paws wet, as there were some ledges on the banks. But if it looked as though I was getting too enthusiastic, she would call me and give a tug on the lead and stop me.
My biped was standing near a large bend in the river where there was an area at the bottom of the bank that was normally above the water. She was a few yards from the edge of the river. Suddenly she vanished!
I went trotting back to where she had been and discovered that the riverbank had collapsed and she was lying at the bottom of it with her feet in the river. I immediately went down to see if she was okay. I stuck my face in hers and she spoke to me and sat up. I nudged her a few times and she stood up. She turned and looked at the bank. It was a climb of about twelve feet – a mess of loose earth and mud. She started to climb, but she didn’t get far before she slid back down. I ran up the bank to show her how easy it was and came back down and nudged her gently before running up it again.
She said, “Thank you, Clowie! Perhaps this is one of those occasions where four legs really are better than two.”
She again tried to climb the bank. She was grabbing at plants with her hands, but they all just pulled out of the wet soil and she just slid back down. She turned round and looked at the river. She looked at the banks in both directions. She couldn’t get to a better place to climb up without going into the river and it was a cold day. The nearest tree overhanging the river was about twenty feet away, so she would get very wet and cold.
I went down the bank and ran back up it to show her that she just needed to try a little bit harder and she could climb the bank where she was. I stood at the top looking down at her, hoping that she would get the idea. It worked because I could see she suddenly had an idea. She called me to her. When I got to her, she looped the lead around my chest making a sort of harness. She held onto this and said, “Clowie, up!”
I stood and gave her my puzzled look. That command made no sense at all. Up is what she says to me when I’m playing in the river on a nice day and she wants me to return to her at the top of the bank. She thought a bit more and then she leant over next to me and pointed to the top of the bank and said, “Go!”
Now I thought I understood. We used “go” at obedience classes when she wanted me to head to where she was pointing. So I tentatively started to climb the bank. She excitedly said, “Yes, go, go!”
I climbed harder, but it was much more difficult this time. She was holding onto the harness she’d made and pulling her weight made my paws slip in the mud. She encouraged me and I dug my paws into the mud and made it to the top of the bank. She asked me to “go” a little farther and she hauled herself onto the top of the bank on her hands and knees. She flopped down and rolled over and I went and gave her a lovely cuddle.
She said, “Clowie, you’re such a clever girl. You’ve saved me from getting very cold and wet today.”
I was really pleased to discover that there was a practical application for at least some of the theory I’d been learning at obedience class!
We walked home a little slower than usual – we were both quite tired. When we arrived the male biped was looking out for us and was surprised to see how muddy we both were. When he heard about our adventure on the riverbank, he told me how proud he was of me. It’s always nice to hear that my bipeds appreciate me and they left me in no doubt that evening!
See you next Wednesday!