Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Dog days

Posted on 25 January 2012 12 comments

Article illustration for Dog days

Today, I interrupt the normal flow of web-, tech-, and design-related blog posts for something a little more personal. It’s not profound, not particularly important, and of no relevance to anyone but me. But it’s something I wanted to write down for posterity. Because today was an entirely normal day and, in hindsight, it’s normal days that warrant remembering the most.

I took Ozzy out for his regular lunchtime walk, across the fields near where we live. He loves the fields because he has the chance to run around, investigate all the strange smells, and attempt to find the occasional tasty poo snack. I love the fields because you can see for miles across the rolling hills and the countryside is spectacular no matter in which direction you look; even on a dull, grey, rather nondescript day like today. It’s relaxing, and I think we both enjoy the fact that we very rarely meet another soul; not even from afar. We get to enjoy all this open space and it’s just us.

At five months old, Ozzy is generally getting better at leaving those all-too-desirable objects he’s not meant to eat, mainly thanks to us calling him away with treats. And today he was pretty good at that, and I was pleased with myself for remembering to load up my pocket with dog biscuits. But having snuck into the bushes out of my eyesight, he found the remnants of a baby bird carcass and the temptation was simply too great. I tried asking him nicely to drop it, then offered him treats, then shouted at him, and then attempted to grab it off him; all to no avail. With the bones planted firmly in his mouth, he bounded around the field, darting my every move, happy playing this most entertaining of games. Eventually I managed to grab his collar, pry the gore from his jaws, and reward him with some treats, hiding it behind my back as I did so. We walked further along and I threw it into the bushes, which was rather silly, as once we’d turned around he picked up the scent again and started searching for it once more. I only managed to distract him by running off, convincing him that we were playing another game. He chased me, drool flying from his flaps. Every time I gave him a treat my gloves absorbed yet more of the disgusting fluid. I was laughing all the time, though.

When we were nearly back at the start of the first field, he disappeared as I neared the stile. I went on, fully expecting him to reappear, and then realised that he’d been just a little too long. The pause was too great. I knew exactly what he was doing and I should’ve known he’d use my limited field of vision to his advantage. Running back into the field and over a small mound, I found him happily devouring his own poo and had to physically drag him away from it. I scolded him and told him how disappointed I was in him, but he couldn’t see my point of view. He looked up at me with eyes that said, ‘if you could make your favourite food come out of your bottom — and hot — wouldn’t you eat it?’ Well, that’s a fair point.

In between the field and pub car park where I always put his lead back on, there’s a bridge that crosses the River Chew over a small waterfall. Suddenly Ozzy decided he was going to explore the steep bank on the higher side of the waterfall and before I could stop him, he was standing in the shallow water. Rather impressed with himself, he stepped forward and suddenly dropped into deep water. Being so near the ledge of the waterfall, a gentle panic washed over me, but thankfully it also washed over Ozzy (along with a fair amount of water) and his instinct returned him to the path. It turns out he can swim.

Once on the bridge, he realised that being soaking wet was a rather exciting experience and he decided to spin wildly to mark the occasion. He came close to spinning off the side — into the waterfall proper — about three times, but luckily span close enough for me to grab his collar and re-attach the lead. It all worked out quite nicely, as his run-in with the river had washed off all the mud from the fields.

When we got home I attempted to dry him whilst wrestling the towel from his jaws and thought, I always want to remember days like this.

(Photo taken at Christmas by my fiancé Samantha)

12 comments

  1. Rufus Denne

    Rufus Denne

    25 January 2012 @ 05:17PM #

    I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to use the beautiful word “bounded” again without me thinking of this CRAZY Australian → http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RodQKqTNDW8 … Sorry if I have now ruined it for anyone else! :)

  2. Gary Aston

    Gary Aston

    25 January 2012 @ 05:24PM #

    Thanks Elliot. This made me smile far more than any article about [INSERT CURRENT WEB TREND] would have done :)

  3. Harry Ford

    Harry Ford

    25 January 2012 @ 05:30PM #

    I was lucky to have grown up with my dog Friday. I would walk him twice sometimes three times a day. I know for a fact the more I walked with him the closer we became. Sadly he died a few years ago but he did live till he was 17.

    Since going freelance last year and working on my own pretty much every day I have actually missed him even more. That’s why I have decided to get another dog ‘Pip’ and we are picking him up this Friday. It is great to see you enjoying Ozzy’s walks as much as him Elliot. It only means he will grow closer and closer to you with every one.

    Look forward to seeing more updates, also was good to catch up with you at NAconf mate.

  4. Chris Spooner

    Chris Spooner

    25 January 2012 @ 06:48PM #

    I found myself relating to every scenario mentioned in this post from the past couple of years with Jake, even down to the turd munching! You’ll be glad to hear that habit does die down a little with age. Nowadays Jake doesn’t bother with his own (unless nobody is looking), and he only tends to go for certain flavours when we come across piles when out in the field.

    PS. Just a little heads up:
    Fiancée (Fiancee) = The woman you’re going to marry.
    Fiancé (Fiance) = The man you’re going to marry.
    No judgement either way but I can’t imagine Samantha would be too happy about you referring to her as a man ;-)
    It’s something to keep in mind when picking out Valentine’s cards so you don’t end up with Ozzy in the dog house!

  5. Guil

    Guil

    25 January 2012 @ 07:31PM #

    Brilliant photo Elliot!

  6. Mark

    Mark

    26 January 2012 @ 06:08AM #

    Sounds lovely mate.

    There’s a great walk if you go under the viaduct to Stanton Drew (think it’s called Stanton Lane) then take a left on to Stanton Wick Lane, back up to Carpenters Arms and then back down into Pensford. Normally takes me an hour or so, not to long, not too short and the opportunity for a half way pint.

    Certainly beats the walks around Dubai : )

  7. Stephen

    Stephen

    26 January 2012 @ 06:19AM #

    this line made my day, ‘if you could make your favourite food come out of your bottom — and hot — wouldn’t you eat it?’. haha!

  8. BENJAMIN

    BENJAMIN

    26 January 2012 @ 03:32PM #

    That’s a GREAT picture, Elliot! What camera did you use?

  9. Richard Rutter

    Richard Rutter

    31 January 2012 @ 11:07AM #

    Heh, I can empathise with this post. Reminds me of when Poppy the beagle was younger, not that she’s changed much, although she has a preference for eating cat poo and rolling in fox poo (now that is nasty to get off). I too felt the urge to write about it for posterity.

  10. egiova

    egiova

    31 January 2012 @ 07:35PM #

    I’m not sure at all, but I think we have to appreciate the way Happyness works. By small pieces to remember instead of long moments. Intensity versus long duration.
    There is so much things so hard to share with others… A feeling, and the reminiscences of others, are enough to me for lightning my day. I thank you for this Monsieur.

  11. David Hernandez

    David Hernandez

    01 February 2012 @ 09:15AM #

    Hearty laughs of empathetic pain and joy. We live with our one-year-old puppy on a farm, abutting national forest with bears that visit and make significant deposits. Then recently, I left the outside door to our composting toilet unlatched. Yeah.

  12. dj

    dj

    28 February 2012 @ 02:55AM #

    I wonder if that eating behavior is part and parcel to the breed OR if, as in human children, pica is an indication of a nutritional deficiency? Of the three dogs who have owned me, none of them has exhibited such tenacity toward obtaining such foodstuffs (?) – thank heavens. The occasional roll in a deer carcass (actually anything dead and dry) perhaps; but, never such relentless pursuit.

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