Ash spent the week with my kids and their dad while I was in Portugal. He was thoroughly spoiled with cuddles in front of the TV, constant access to the garden, snacks and walks through the wheat fields. He was sitting on the step outside the kitchen one evening looking into the house and Dave had to help him over the last step, poor chap.

Since I got him home he has followed me around like a puppy even more than usual. We have noticed he’s often wobbly on his back legs. When he is standing his legs are often slightly bent and splayed, as though he’s a bit sore. He stares at me a lot, asking for something and I don’t know what it is.

Tents & coral beaches

Mac and I stayed in a beautiful tent in Portugal, complete with decking floor, proper bathroom with pantile roof, water from the bore hole and a real kitchen. We had to make sure all food was sealed because of the various creatures sharing the orange grove with us. It reminded me of a holiday in Skye around 4 years ago with the kids and Ash. We drove to the Coral Beach at Claigan, just north of Dunvegan in the North West of the Island. The beach is a good 25 min walk from the car park but well worth the trip with pure white ‘sands’ made from crushed, bleached skeletons of Red Coralline seaweed and views of North Uist and Harris.

As you walk along the beach there is a little hill known as ‘Ghrobain’ that you have to climb for the best views. It only takes a couple of minutes. Once at the top, I decided it was time to let Ash off the lead. After all, there was no one around and we had passed only a couple of people on the way. No sooner had I released him that he took off, full speed over the brow of the hill in the opposite direction. Now Ash only runs at speed when he can smell food. I had no idea what he could smell…maybe some deer poo or an animal carcass? I took off after him, knowing I would never catch up but knowing I had to keep going as he was probably going to eat something unsavoury.

As I reached the brow of the hill and started running down it I saw a small, orange tent at the bottom. Rough placement in the photo above. I hadn’t noticed it on the way as I had been looking at the coral under my feet, and the views of the Outer Hebrides. I kept running, but Ash reached the tent what seemed like minutes before I did. It was an old fashioned tent with guy ropes and a loose groundsheet. This meant there was an Ash-sized gap between the tent and the groundsheet, which he made his way into to find the stash of food. By the time I reached him, he had his nose in the Sunblest bag having eaten most of a sliced white loaf and a pack of sliced ham and what I can only guess was cheese wrapped in clingfilm.

I hauled him out by the collar, looking around to see where the owner was. No-one to be seen. I had no pen or paper to leave a note. No food to leave as a replacement. No money with me to leave as an apology. We just had to go back to the car, feeling terribly guilty that some poor person would return from a day’s walking to their meagre meal which had been shared unwittingly with a Labrador.

We had a walk in the Country Park this evening and he had a paddle in the river, dragging his back legs up the bank behind him slightly as he tried to haul himself out. No loopy turn tonight, not even any rolling around in the leaves to dry. Maybe next time.