Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Field Of Poo

Bought a harness lead for my lovely puppy, Wanpi 2, today. She isn't overly pleased about it, but looks very cute indeed. Training her to walk on the lead is going to be another matter - though, thankfully, she is very small, and when all else fails we can pick her up. Walking Wanpi today made me smile, albeit cringingly, as it reminded me of my last experience of walking a dog. My friend Jason, who was my next door neighbour when I lived in Japan, has a very appealing black-lab mix called Sakura (what exactly she is mixed with I don't know, as her mum is big and blonde!). One sunny Sunday, my friend Amy and I decided to take Sakura for a walk in the park. At first, though very excited, she managed to contain herself as she strolled along on her lead (Sakura, not Amy). We were looking for somewhere ideal to spread our blanket and laze in the sun. Just past the pond was a lovely, wide field in which no-one else was sitting. We headed over there and began to unpack our books, snacks, frisbee, etc. Sakura lolled in the long grass looking peaceful. "Do you reckon we should let Sakura off the lead?" I asked Amy. We agreed that the dog looked sufficiently relaxed and that it wouldn't do any harm.

We were very much mistaken. Sakura took off at warp speed as soon as released. She raced towards the pond, as she obviously would, being a canine. She remembered the juicy fat carp and ducks she'd spotted as we passed. We jumped up and ran after her, shouting commands, but by the time we caught up she had already hurtled herself headlong into the pond, barking maddeningly and swimming after ducks. She wouldn't come back to us, and began snapping and chasing a particularly vapid duck up the stream that led under a bridge, and far into the park. We couldn't stop her. A crowd started to gather. Amy and I followed Sakura as she swam up and down, up and down, after this duck for at least 20 minutes. She was getting tired, but she knew she would be in big trouble when she got out, so she kept on trying to get the dastardly duck. By this time she was letting out exhausted yelps, and we were hoarse from shouting at her. The crowd increased. Look at those stupid gaijin who let their stupid dog off it's lead, they thought. We were totally fed up, felt like complete prats, and were tired of being even more of a crowd-gathing spectacle than normal. Then, as we considered leaving her there, someone had the bright idea of getting a massive stick and prodding Sakura in the ribs from the bridge. Sakura finally gave up, and let herself be hauled out of the water by some random bloke. We gave her a great telling off, tied her to a tree, and tried desperately to salvage our Sunday afternoon feeling.

It was, however, totally impossible. Sakura looked pitiful. The crowd was still gathered on the bridge. Eventually most of them spent all their gossip and drifted off. Still, some old farts lingered, and they obviously had nothing better to do than stare at us. And stare they did. It was really getting up our noses. The sun went behind a cloud. We decided to admit defeat and leave. We folded up the blanket and packed up, then left the field by a different gate than we had entered by. Just then, we noticed a large, prominent sign. It was of course, written in Japanese, but we read the kanji and deduced the meaning. Basically, the message was: 'THIS IS THE FIELD FOR DOGS TO SHIT IN'. The crowd must have wanted to tell us, but thought that we wouldn't understand...

Perhaps it's sometimes better if you don't.

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