Tyler is a Jack Russell. And a dog – except when he’s pretending to be a cat.
Tyler is my aunt and uncle’s dog. They live in a village in the Western Isles. There’s very little passing traffic so they let Tyler walk on his own. He has the run of the village.
Every night at 11 o’clock, Tyler would bark and run to the back door to be let out for a final walk before bed. 30 minutes later he’d be back. A single bark to announce his presence and my aunt and uncle would let him back into the house.
This happened every night for six months until, one day, my aunt saw a neighbour’s post on Facebook. “Does anyone know a small white and brown dog that’s been running round the village before midnight’
It could only be Tyler.
She didn’t know the neighbour that well so went round to her house to explain that Tyler was just out for a walk and to see if he’d been barking or making a noise to disturb them.
“He’s not been barking,”said the neighbour, “he’s been shagging! Our dog’s pregnant!”
No wonder Tyler was so keen on his final walk of the day. He’d been playing Romeo to some other dog’s Juliet!
“Was he sneaking into your back grden?’ Asked my aunt.
“No,” said the neighbour. “We knew our dog was in heat so we’ve been keeping her indoors.”
“Then why do think Tyler’s involved? He can’t get into a house” Asked my Aunt.
“He’s been sneaking in through the car flap! We caught them at it in the middle of the kitchen!”
My aunt was quick to apologise but it turned out that the neighbour was really only interested in finding out if Tyler was a pedigree because it turned out she had a Jack Russell too. When my aunt confirmed that Tyler was indeed a pedigree dog genetically, if not morally, the neighbour was delighted.
“Excellent, I’ll be able to sell the puppy’s for £500 each!”
And Tyler was encouraged to continue his midnight walks.
I thought of this story as I start to think about training over autumn and winter. It’s always hard to go outside when it starts to get dark and cold and wet. It’s easy to come up with excuses to skip a run or a bike ride. But dog’s don’t have that excuse. They go out in all weathers and wait patiently at the door for their chance to walk and run so we too need to take our inspiration from dogs and find our reason to always head outside. But not to have an affair with someone down the street – and definitely not to break in first! That’s not an excuse to get out of the house, that a reason for the cops to come round and encourage you to spend a lot more time inside!