I thought it was time I took el perrito, Scamp, for a bit of exercise. A wander into the village is about the right length and, if I played my cards right, I might also be able to check on the local Odo inhabitants around the pools of the river. I’d take my camera rucksack along, just in case.
El perrito used to use a regular collar to attach his lead to and walk in. There’s something about collars that seems to make dogs pull canstantly, the classic straining at the leash I imagine. The constant pulling also seems to half choke them so not only is the leash constantly taught but there is constant accompanying coughing, wheezing sound. Unpleasant.
More recently, el perrito uses one of those harness-type contraptions. There is a crosswise strap in front of the little blighters front legs, another crosswise strap just behind the front legs and a strap running fore and aft between his legs that joins the other two straps and keeps them in place. The whole harness comes together on top of el perrito’s shoulder blades, where the lead attaches. The harness is quite snug – you get different sizes tailored to different sized dogs.
El perrito’s reaction to the harness provides a good deal of amusement. As usual with a brainless canine critter, muttering the word walk causes ears to prick up in interest. However, removing the harness from its cupboard instantly makes el perrito disappear and hide. Undaunted, you track down el perrito who sits subdued and unmoving while you finagle his front legs into it and fasten it over his shoulder blades. You are now free to do anything – he won’t move. The contraption acts like a canine wheel clamp. Excellent. Freedom! Now clip the lead onto the harness above el perrito’s shoulder blades and suddenly all is normal again; the dog becomes re-animated and wants to go for a walk again. Very curious. Along with my camera rucksack, this is how we made our way down to the rock pools of the river.
Dog and I crossed a lot of boulders to approach the place where I’d seen my first Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi) a couple of days ago. Today wasn’t very sunny so I wasn’t that hopeful but when I arrived at the spot there were not one but two males flying about and occasionally settling. With one hand hanging on the el perrito, I slipped off the rucksack and extracted my camera one-handed. Still one-handed, I grabbed a couple of snaps of my quarry in the quarry. One-handed photography isn’t the easiest, especially with a hefty 300mm lens plus 1.4X extender weighing down on the front of the camera. I needed to park el perrito.
3 metres away was a stand of bamboo. I lashed el perrito to the bamboo to free up my other hand and returned to my subject. At first el perrrito tried to follow me but was pulled up short by his anchored lead. I spent about five minutes trying to get better line-ups and shots using both hands. Finally I was crouching down in amongst the rocks taking what I thought was my best picture of this visit when, to my astonishment, el perrito wandered up and sniffed around my ear. What! Somehow he had slipped out of the harness.
I perhaps should just have left him to sniff around but tried to grab him, whereupon he decided to make off across the rocks, heading back in the direction from which we’d come. Giving chase to a scampering Scamp across boulders with an unwieldy camera rig in one hand is not easy. I wasn’t gaining on my quadruped charge who was fast approaching the road on the far side of the river gulley. Mild panic set in. I put on my sternest voice and bellowed “SCAMP!”. Fortunately it worked and the little blighter stopped, looking round at me. Relieved, I got to him. Next problem: picking up a struggling dog one-handed whilst not dropping my newly repaired camera onto the ground again. [It was recently repaired from dropping it during my previous Spanish visit.]
Somehow I managed to get him into my arm, I honestly can’t quite remember how. Now I had to make my way back across the boulders clutching a camera in one hand and a dog in the other to retrieve the harness and lead which was still lashed to the bamboo. I expected to find the harness opened up somehow rather than clipped together but no, it was still fastened as it is when across el perrito’s shoulder blades. The only thing was that el perrito was no longer in it, he was under my right arm. I have absolutely no idea how he managed to wriggle out of what appears to be a very secure straight jacket device. He should be renamed Houdini. I put my camera gently on the ground and fought Houdini back into his harness.
I’m now wondering if he’d have sat immobilized if I’d simply unclipped the lead from the harness and left him with his canine wheel clamp on. Interesting thought. Maybe I’ll put it to the test somewhere safer, one day.