So much of our lives revolve around routines. We are creatures of habit, as they say, and no creature is more habitual than Mr Long – Young Badger Boy. He gets us up at 6 a.m. every morning and was not even put out by the clocks changing: he just re-set his internal horological mechanism and started whining an hour earlier the next day. He demands dinner at 4, playing at 5 and, more often than not, a lap or a warm log fire by 6. And a biscuit at bed time normally settles him. It’s a simple life and it works, at home. It is when we are away from home that ‘issues’ occur.
They first became apparent in a dog-friendly hotel room in Monmouth last July. It was hot (Damn’ Hot). Three of us were sharing the room with Mr Long. No amount of biscuits would encourage the dog to go to sleep that night and Mrs B, VB and I took turns trying to get the boy asleep. After a fraught night, which ended with us frazzled and irritable (and him sound asleep on the floor) we agreed there had been moments we had worried we might impulsively hurl the poor animal out of the third floor window. Not because we wanted rid of him – far from it – but we were so punch drunk with fatigue we could not have been held accountable for our actions.
But that was one night in a busy pub / hotel (with other dogs). He were sure he would be fine at my brother’s house, when we visited earlier this year. And I am sure he would have been, if it was not for the gourmet feast of mozzarella, chorizo and cherry tomatoes that The Long Dog took advantage of when it was generously left for him on a low coffee table. By the time he was discovered, he was metaphorically wiping the plate with the remains of a large home-baked sour dough loaf. His subsequent whining and restlessness throughout the night we put down to indigestion.
Next up, perhaps staying over with friends nearer to home, without the consumption of vast quantities of carbs would be a better proposition? Sadly not. The first thing Badger did on arrival, was to escape from the kitchen and run upstairs – where he managed to corner one of the resident cats. When Mr Long sees a cat, he, not to put it too mildly, LOSES HIS SHIT. And on this occasion he was unable to regain it for the rest of the night. We left our good friends, like a guilty one night stand, by the back door, at dawn.
So, is there a trick in this tale of getting a Long Dog to lie low while away from home? If there is, we might have discovered it on our trip to Cambridge last weekend. The trick is to not be there. While we stayed in Cambridge, Badger was dropped in Bedford for a sleepover with long-time friends Jane and Stuart, and their lively Golden Lab Silas. It did not start well, as Badger launched an unprovoked attack on Silas. In Badger’s defence (no, really, he’s very bright and the teachers do not understand his needs), he did get roughed up Silas, who wanted to get rather too intimate with the Badger Boy. Silas is still ‘intact’. Badger (after his operation) is not. Silas seemed obsessed with this and constantly tried to lick the area that was lacking the very two things that Silas was boldly displaying between his hind legs. It was perhaps taking the…whatever.
After an initial reaction that was tantamount to a threat to rip Silas’s throat out, we were able to calm Badger to mute acceptance although Silas remained unabashed. We left for Cambridge with a sense of doom on how the night would pan out.
But apparently it all turned out fine. Badger just made the decision to go upstairs at bedtime, ending up in bed with his human hosts, in a clear insistence that this was what his normal night time routine entailed. Jane accepted the Long Dog, who snuggled at her feet. And so it all ended happily ever after. Which is more than can be said about our evening in Cambridge celebrating my big brother’s Rub Wedding. I left the party at 10, with a headache, sore throat and temperature.
We were hoping to stay with Jane and Stuart the next evening but instead we sat in the drive, took a Lateral FLow Test, which was positive, and went home with bags and dog. But it was not an entirely wasted journey. We had found out how to go away with Badger: don’t stay with him, keep him away from cats, amorous male dogs, and any food after 6pm, and ensure he has the almost exclusive use of a king size duvet.