Home > Health, Living in Italy, Our pets > Waiting for nothing

Waiting for nothing

Relaxed vigilance


It’s midday, when the Rehabilitation Centre people are due to arrive. The dogs, unaware, are by the patio door.

Taylor won’t be fazed by anyone coming. He’s relaxed and curious with everyone. “A new crotch to sniff,” we quip.

He loves going for drives but I can’t take him if I’m fetching sacks of pellets (no room for both), or if I have to leave the car in a supermarket car park. He begs me for hours in advance, after interpreting my plans from the clothes or shoes I put on.

He’s unique among our dogs in giving a short bark when he wants to come in rather than scrabbling at the door or the window. (The smears on the patio glass are from Galileo.)

I often see him cock his leg – sometimes to overlay the signal from a cat, undoubtedly – but I’ve never even seen him defecate. He has nine hectares of unfenced land to go in, and he disappears and does it privately, a long way from the house – unlike our other dogs whose efforts can be inconvenient to say the least.

He’s so linguistically alert that it’s become impossible to embed a synonym of ‘feed the dogs’ in a sentence without him picking up on it.

When invited (and occasionally without invitation) he rears up almost to shoulder height – thirty-five or so kilos of solid, huggable bulk.

The lower registers of my violin and of Clive’s saxophone stir him to utter a soaring, harmonic, siren-like howl perfectly suited to communicating over tens of miles of frozen tundra. (We take it as a compliment.)


We’ve waited long enough; I let Taylor out. Then I let him in again.

At 1.20 pm two cars pull up and five people spill out.

The main man glances at Clive, comes no nearer than a couple of metres, and then spouts non-stop for the entire visit, rebuffing any attempts by anyone else to make a contribution. It’s a whole load of gift-of-the-gab, I-like-the-sound-of my-own-voice waffle based on no knowledge whatsoever of Clive’s medical condition, history or capabilities. He pronounces that Clive and the Centre are incompatible.

After that, no-one else’s input is relevant so we don’t even hear what they have to say. They leave.

From the window I see the man continuing to hold forth while the others stand round and listen. Mercifully I can no longer hear him.

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