A Beagle and a Pair of Doc Martens

Dedicated to @ChrisBzChris

The parallels between them were clear; both initially caused a lot of pain and took a long time to get used to, and both were worth every minute of it. They also enjoyed going for walks together; whenever those scuffed blue boots appeared Lilly knew it was time for an adventure. You could never tell what the backdrop for this might be, forest, sea-scape, hills or park, but it didn’t matter all that much – so long as there was running and the occasional treat. Both Beagle and boots had covered some miles in their 11 years together, and the boots still looked like they could carry on for at least 11 more. Lilly, on the other hand, looked weary these days – she had put on a bit of weight, despite the running and probably as a result of the treats, and her hair was greying about her face, but she still got excited when she saw those old blue boots. It didn’t matter if there was a foot of snow on the ground, thick clawing mud or cracked, parched earth – those blue Docs were the perfect shoe for a dog walk, or so it seemed to Lilly. They were always there.

Before any walk was able to take place, the shoe ritual would need to be completed. Lilly’s lead would always be put on first and she would be commanded to “sit” and “wait” whilst the thick, black laces were pulled, twisted and pulled again – with the odd, pained groan as each foot was pushed down deep inside them with a thud. Lilly’s tail would wag uncontrollably throughout; how she could be expected to sit and wait was a wonder that she was never fully able to grasp. Rarely did she achieve her part in the ritual, but that soon became part of the ritual too – groan, thud, twist, pull, “sit”, “wait” – repeat. Lilly rarely considered the purpose of this dance, why would she? She was a dog. That was the way it had always been and would always be; the dance, the walk, the boots, the treats. They were a beacon for Lilly. Should she become distracted by some smell or sound or the passing fancy of another dog, she only had to turn her head and seek out the flash of bright blue, a contrast to all the natural environments, save for the deepest of blue seas perhaps. Those blue boots were her guiding light home, home to safety, food, warmth and companionship.

That was until the day came when those blue Docs sat up on the boot rack by the door, never again to perform the dance of the walk. There were plenty of boots around during that time, black mostly, and never removed at the doorway as they should be, but trampled throughout the house with abandon – even up the stairs! So many people and so much activity, but absolutely no rhythm or ritual. Lilly waited expectantly for the next exploration, but those blue boots just sat there, another passive observer of the frenetic activity in the house that day. When the lead did come it was without warning, without ritual – without the blue boots. An unfamiliar hand, firm and functional attached it to her collar – and as she walked over the threshold into the crisp morning air outside, she glanced to her right at those old blue boots, perched where they were left atop the collection of other dance shoes for different occasions. Idol and abandoned, who would walk them now?

© @SobrietyMatt 2021

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