I’m very glad our neighbour’s back. She’s just been to the Metropole for a week and during her absence I was responsible for walking her dog, Ulysse (being French, he has no ‘s’ on his name, but he doesn’t seem to mind). Now it’s fine walking the neighbour’s dog as long as he gets back in one piece. But as the week wore on I grew increasingly anxious Ulysse was going to keel over and die. He’s old, arthritic, and clearly close to the end, which I dreaded might come on my watch. Actually, I was sharing the task with Philippe, the other neighbour, and I found myself shamefully praying that when it did come to pass, it would be on his stint rather than mine. But as he was doing the cooler morning walk, with Ulysse refreshed by sleep, that appeared to be wishful thinking.
Strangely enough, Ulysse summoned unsuspected reserves of strength whenever he saw a scooter, which he attacked. At first I kept forgetting he felt so strongly about scooters, so failed to brace myself and was jerked into the road while the hapless rider swerved, swore and shook a furious fist at Ulysse (or rather, me).
After the scooter attack, in which bother rider and dog came perilously close to heart attacks, it was even harder for Ulysse to negotiate the sixteen steps back to the flat, but four pauses and ten minutes later, he was back inside, where he collapsed panting on the floor. And I breathed a sigh of relief until the next afternoon.