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Collie Memories
By John Swan

We were walking along the beach, the tide was halfway in and that meant that we couldn’t walk on the sand, it didn’t trouble me then because I was younger and the pebbles didn’t hurt my paws. I did love the sand though, I could run and skid about and it felt so nice but for some reason the sand wasn’t there, tides and things like that were too baffling
for a collie!

There was one of those wooden things in the way, they grew at regular intervals along the beach and stretched down to the sea. People said they are there to stop the beach being washed away but I think that’s an excuse because nobody can be bothered to prune them. Looking down over the other side I could see a massive drop to the next bit of beach, it
was too big a drop for me to jump and I looked at John to see what we were going to do.
John was my bestest friend in the whole world, if people asked him if he was my master he would say no, he’s not a slave! John was a lot taller than me, about four times taller I would say, but the drop was even bigger than he was, a dilemma indeed!

Now you’re probably thinking that we could walk up the beach and then back down a bit further on, but we wanted to walk along the beach and that was that. John told me that the storm the night before had washed the pebbles like that and then said to wait there. He lowered himself down the other side as far as he could then jumped the rest, as if I was going to do that! Actually I probably would have tried if he had wanted me to, but no it wasn’t going to be that bad. He looked up at me then patted his shoulders, I knew what he meant and leapt down, my front paws landing where John had pointed to and his safe arms catching the rest of me. Oh joy of joys, where there had been pebbles, there was sand, to a collie a storm might not be a bad thing after all.

I loved that beach, when it was warm we would go down there and John would go in the water, quite a way out, and I would have to swim after him, let him hold on to my tail then I would swim back in towing him along. He would do the same for me! And on the way home we would stop at a water tap and I would have a nice big drink, sometimes a nice old lady who lived near by would get me a drink as well if she saw me.

We didn’t always go to the beach, sometimes we went up to where there were woods or fields or both. I liked them nearly as much as the beach, but when it was hot I preferred the woods - they were cooler. The only trouble with the woods was that sometimes they might be muddy, not a problem to me, it soon dries and falls off when I was back indoors but John didn’t seem to appreciate this so much and I would have the dreaded ‘paw wash’ when we got back. It wasn’t that bad really, the water was luke warm and my paws did feel better for it, but it’s the principal of it! And come to think of it, it wasn’t as bad as the quick shower I had to have if I’d been in the sea, I couldn’t see the point of that, the salt wasn’t going to make me go rusty!

Anyway, back to the woods and the fields. Fields were nice, there were lots of different things to sniff, and always quite a few sticks for John to throw away. I always brought them back but he would throw them away again, I didn’t mind - he played games with me so why shouldn’t I play games with him? Now woods were quite enjoyable, probably more so
than fields, plenty of curious places to investigate and now and then the odd animal or bird to say hello to. I didn’t like chasing them because they probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it. The only draw back with woods and fields was that it was a bit of a walk along pavements before we got there, it did keep my claws smooth and when I was younger it was quite
adventurous in a way. There were so many front gardens that I could nose at and say hello to anybody that was in them. As I got older we used to drive there, John always said that he would drive, my paws wouldn’t reach the peddles - what a feeble excuse -  he could have adjusted the seat!

I liked most things we did but there was this thing called ‘decorating’ that I could not see the point of and certainly was not a collie like activity. I would be kept out the room even though it would have been done better with my help. The only thing I liked about was the trip up to the fish and chip shop afterwards when I would get a bit of fish, obviously as compensation for being banished! My only complaint was that I would have preferred the fish in a big lump, but John insisted on mashing it up to check for a stray fish bone.

As I got older I couldn’t take John out for such long walks, but he was happy to sit about on the beach with me or go for a short and slow stroll through the woods. I used to think it was funny how people and dogs are different. When it was colder I loved it more and could run for hours, but I could see that John wasn’t enjoying it as much and was happy to go home for him. As I got older I could understand why.

You might be thinking that it was just me and John, it wasn’t, there were always other people about, but it was always me and John to me. And even if this was a long time ago it still seems like yesterday, and now I look down to John. It isn’t sad - I know he’s happy and I can see him whenever I want!

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