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I’m reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life.   I remember being in England for a brief period in the early 80’s and you could walk from village to village across meadows and pastures for miles; the countryside was crisscrossed by walking paths that connected everyone to everything and made it possible to travel everywhere on foot.  From Life, page 34:

When I was growing up, it was heavy fog almost all winter, and if you’ve got two or three miles to walk to get back home, it was the dogs that led you.  Suddenly old Dodger would show up with a patch on his eye, and you could basically guide your way home by that.  Sometimes the fog was so thick you couldn’t see a thing.  And old Dodger would take you up and hand you over to some Labrador.  Animals were in the street, something that’s disappeared.  I would have got lost and died without some help from my canine friends.

Reminded me of time spent in a youth hostel somewhere in England.  When you stay in a hostel you are entrusted with a task and mine was to walk the landlady’s dog.  He was chubby, stalwart and disapproving.  I didn’t walk him, he walked me.

We set out on a path that led through a pasture, down a country lane with bucolic views all around and along a rustic road to a gate.   I was a vigorous twenty-something and up for putting in some extra time but when I expressed my interest the dog was having none of it.  At the end of the path he fixed me with a bitter glare and turned back for the hostel.  There would be no compromise.

You could see that dog escorting some kid home.  But like Richards’ dogs, his turf was his turf and duty had its limits.



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