Cally huffed and puffed as she walked up the steep slope, glad to spot level ground ahead which signaled the end of her lung-busting ascent. Her dog, Fred, trotted amiably along in front, stopping occasionally to sniff, and cock his leg up trees and plants. He didn’t seem in the least concerned about the gradient they’d just climbed.
“Jammy sod,” Cally grumbled, aiming the comment at the wiggling canine bottom. Its owner remained completely oblivious to the mild insult thrown its way. “You’ve got four bloody legs. I’ve only got two.”
Reaching the flat area at the end of the track, she stepped onto it with a sigh of relief, then stopped and grabbed her water from her backpack. She drank her fill, then stowed the bottle away. She was just reaching for Fred’s water container when a movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention.
Thinking perhaps a rabbit or hare was bounding across the field, she moved closer to the dry-stone wall separating the public land from the field. The movement came again, and Cally laughed out loud.
“Fred!” she called, beckoning the dog. “Look! Who’s that?”
Her Collie-cross ambled over obediently, placing his front paws on the wall and peering over. Immediately, his ears pricked up and his body tensed as he saw the other dog bouncing in the long grass. Then his tail began wagging nineteen-to-the-dozen, and he panted excitedly.
Cally smiled as she turned her attention back to the other dog. She wasn’t sure because it was still at some distance, but she thought it was a Border Terrier. It continued leaping in the long grass, weeds and nettles, trying to find a way through to reach Cally and Fred. After a few minutes, it seemed to give up, and turned around and went back the way it had come.
“Oh well,” Cally shrugged and gave Fred a scratch behind the ear. His long tongue lolled out as he grinned dopily at her. “It was a good excuse for me to have a break. Now we’d better carry on.”
After another rub of Fred’s ears, Cally pulled her map from her pocket and consulted it. “Okay,” she said to herself, “we turn right along here, then left at the end of this road. Come on, Fred!”
To their left was the entrance to the farm where she presumed the cute terrier lived. Big iron gates stood open, either side of a cattle grid. To their right was a tarmac track which would lead them down to the road. Figuring it was safe for Fred to remain off his lead for a little while longer, since the track only led to the farm, Cally turned right and started walking. She’d caught her breath now and picked up her pace.
She and Fred were fifty yards or so down the track when a noise close behind made Cally turn around. A light brown blur shot past her and homed in on Fred. After a moment of confusion, Cally realized what had happened—the dog had finally found its way out of the field. It must have crept down the side of the cattle grid! And, fortunately, it was friendly. Very friendly.