On this occasion the ‘Stare of the Dog’ drew its owners away from the familiar comforts of sub-urban life to an excellent campsite in North-West Wales. Dudley’s been expressing a lot of interest for a while now in spending a night outdoors and who am I to deprive him. So with car packed high and the boy himself skillfully contorted into every available spare boot space, we were away and before long easing to a stop at the Parc Dwyros campsite in time for a fabulous sea view sunset across Aberdaren bay. Unlike a night with Dudley, I can heartily recommend the site.
Camp was swiflty made and attentions turned as ever they do with a Labrador to food. In typical loutish fashion, Dudley dispatched his RDA of Wagg in around 70 seconds leaving us to get our own grub going. Progress was slow going mind after quickly discovering the height of our work surface was equal to Dudley’s nose. A pitched battle followed between chefs and chien. Our path to victory came only after he discovered the bin bag below the stove, the contents of which offered weaker resistance than our precious grub. All I’ll say having seen him skulk around the back of the tent trailing onion peelings and meat wrappers like a ticker-tape parade is that the Chilli and nachos served that night were prepared under conditions Keith Floyd or the Hairy Bikers would have baulked at.
With the thin autumn light fading, bedtime came and we all performed our nightly ablutions – humans having deigned to walk the short distance to the shower block before you judge us. At this point, Dudley’s sleeping quarters became the hot topic. Should he be shoved in the back of the car or somehow barricaded into the porch area of our tent? We were after all new to camping with him and ill equipped. In the end we opted for the ‘barricade’ method, though with grave consequences to follow. In hindsight I’d have got him in the car faster than Hugh Grant in an LA side street.
Having foolishly eschewed the car boot option, work began barricading the hound into our canvass bolt-hole in a manner reminiscent of a scene from Zulu. Satisfied with our efforts, canine and humans were at last separated albeit by the thinnest of margins and calmness descended. Like a guest at a Kardashian wedding though, I was filled with an uneasy feeling it wouldn’t last.
Initially the nocturnal stirrings wafting through our flimsy partition were harmless enough and like a ‘Steps’ single on the radio, quite ignorable. This soon changed. Seizing upon a gap carelessly left in the zip by me, Dudley forced his way into our inner sanctum for an unsolicited visit with a determination that would have impressed the most battle hardened rush hour tube passenger. Imagine if you will the ‘Here’s Johnny’ scene from the ‘Shining’ and you’ve got the idea. Such invasions of privacy call for stern words and even stouter actions and before long order had been restored and the hound driven out.
A short while later weary humans awoke again to discover a breach of the barricades and the sound of our four-legged escapee foraging around outside the tent like a truffle hunting pig. Our containment strategies were now more compromised than a US election and there was nothing for it but to invite the brute in and have him spend the rest of the night with us. What an error. Toilet rolls were unraveled, underwear stolen and waved around unashamedly whether clean or dirty, suitcases plundered and bed space fought over inch by inch from the moment he crashed in.
Adding insult to glorious injury, we now remembered all too late the meat stain on one pillow – caused by a leaky cool box on the car journey over – which Dudley was now zeroing in on like a drone pilot. The final straw came at dawn when the tent had taken in enough daylight to offer us a close up view of his testicles hanging menacingly above our heads like bored teenagers outside a newsagents. Far from put off though by the harrowing experiences meted out on us that fateful night, we decided to remain at the campsite another day and resolved to rethink our containment strategies over a bacon roll.
We also decided more importantly to arrange a neutering appointment on our return home but that’s a tale for another day.