The thing is… well… dogs and me… we have different elements, see.
In winter my element involves lolling on the sofa with a fleecy blanket, a mug of Yorkshire Tea at the optimum temperature, some excellent reading material and/or something splendid to watch and/or some of my favourite humans entertaining me.
Dogs, on the other hand – well, their element tends to include a lot more weather. And when a person spontaneously becomes responsible for a spaniel (here), it becomes that person’s job to ensure it gets a regular dose of its element.
So, never one to shirk my responsibilities (cough), today I willingly(ish) accompanied spouse and hound out into the weather that lies beyond my sofa. Today’s elements had a treat in store for us with lowering skies and winds that were genuinely howling, but spaniel was practically delirious with joy at the whole thing. When he’s delirious his ears and tongue have minds of their own.
Once we were out of the town and into the gorse-lined scrub-land that surrounds it the wind was so strong it felt as though it was trying to rip my scalp off. It’s difficult to show wind photographically when there are no trees, so I tried to show it using the plastic covering on the hay bales.
It rained all day yesterday, so the ground gave me the perfect opportunity for feeling pleased that I own a pair of wellies.
After plenty of satisfactory squelching we found a sign to Gwennap Pit and decided to visit. Gwennap Pit is an amphitheatre that John Wesley preached in many times during the 1700s. Here are some photos.
On the way back we encountered a bunch of long-necked creatures batting their considerable eyelashes at a lady in a hat. The alpaca, said the hat lady, love to have their photos taken. When people pass by without a camera she sometimes asks them to hold up their hands and make clicking noises just to satiate the alpaca desire for celebrity. Fortunately, I had a camera.
The alpaca above are three of the characters that live in the boys’ field. Sadly, all but one of her original boys are gone since she had to have them put down due to TB.
Animal Health policy is to prevent animals from witnessing the death of their fellows – so pigs go in one by one to the slaughterhouse, for example. But hat lady knew that she couldn’t separate the alpacas from each other on the day the infected ones were to be put down; if the others didn’t know what had happened to their family they would restlessly look for them everywhere. She had to fight the Animal Health officer to have her own way, and she wept a little as she told us how it happened.
The whole herd were led into a field together and the infected ones kept slightly apart. A friend helped her hold up screens so that the alpaca couldn’t see the shooting happen, and when it was done, the herd were allowed to come and say their final goodbyes. They surrounded their dead friends and nudged them with their noses to try to make them get up again, all the while making humming noises to express their grief. Then, after they alpacas had finally accepted what had happened, they turned and walked slowly, in single file, out of the field.
Hat lady is devoted to her alpacas, and told us amazing stories about their characters and endearing habits. I did a bit of research when I got home and found that she’d missed one important story out. I found it here. She travels the country now, teaching people how to look after alpacas and how to prevent what happened to her happening to others. Her website is here.
On the way home, I saw two more things.
So, in the competition between nature and sofa, I suppose nature has its attractions. If I hadn’t got off my arse I wouldn’t have seen my spouse levitating in an amphitheatre or discovered a new fondness for Peruvian mountain creatures. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have had to bath a dog-shaped pile of wriggling mud, either.