11.2.17 Yesterday we took Lola out into the big wide world (well, the market town of Petersfield) for the first time. We went as a family and our initial plan was for one of us to stand outside each shop with her. This plan faltered at the first hurdle, the sports shop. The inevitable time taken to choose two cricket bats and find out about the 3 hours of knocking necessary to condition the wood meant that Lola got very cold. She was very calm and waited patiently but she did whine a bit and was clearly a bit uncomfortable. She then refused to go down an alley where building work was going on, so Andy had to carry her. It was clear she was going to suffer in the cold outside many more shops so Andy took her back to the car while the rest of us sped up and bought the essential items before heading back. It was reminiscent of many aborted shopping trips in the past because the baby has had enough and won’t stop crying. Except that Lola didn’t really complain. She just looked miserable, which still worked.
What was really interesting was the other shoppers’ reaction to her. Not coming from a dog loving background myself, it was wonderful to see the joy that Lola brought to those who are dog lovers. She received lots of strokes and we received lots of compliments. I’m not sure about dog-complimenting etiquette. If someone compliments Lola, should I compliment their dog? Does it follow baby etiquette whereby people (myself included) will pour over a pram and compliment the gorgeous baby inside, yet no one stops me to coo over my 8 and 10 year olds? Do puppies attract the compliments that the adult dogs miss out on?
Irrespective of etiquette, it was the first time I had really seen Lola through other people’s eyes (friends don’t count). She is apparently beautiful and calm. I felt quite proud of her. I realised that I did expect her to be good around people and generally behave herself. She is, however, still very erratic walking on the lead and needs to be yanked quite regularly to get her to move. This is not surprising as we haven’t really trained her to walk well yet. A friend suggested we need to put a word to it each time we pull her closer to us – we’re going to use ‘heel’. I pick up nuggets like this from time to time and always find them really useful, like drops of water in a parched desert of dog-related ignorance.
Andy reflected, after his evening play session with Lola, that he still wouldn’t miss her if she wasn’t around, and isn’t too keen on the prospect of having to play with her every evening (although he’ll be in Spain next week, so that will solve that issue), but that she did bring joy to lots of people, just by existing and being herself.
I’m warming to Lola myself. It is a simple bite/affection equation whereby the less she bites me the more I like her. We invited her into the living room again last night and she was pretty well-behaved. She didn’t try to get up on the sofas and was generally calm. She seemed to enjoy watching the tv, although I think the more subtle aspects of Apple Tree Yard may have been lost on her.