Henry has a new trick. Not one of those tricks that take gazillions of repetitions before a dog can reliably produce the desired behaviour to command. His trick is a quite unique response to a perfectly reasonable request that he may like to take a turn around the area at the rear of the house euphemistically known as a “garden”, and relieve himself, in preference to using the mat by the kitchen door! Now Henry loves being outdoors: if he were human he would most definitely be a countryman and quite possibly a poacher. Outdoors is about digging deep holes to knock Harvey in, it’s about lying in ambush behind the nettle patch to swipe the stick from one of the girl’s mouths, it’s about jumping above the fence in front of the hedge, landing in the privet and wiggling gently until gravity drops him down through the hedge so he can escape the other side and immediately presenting himself back at the front gate because he doesn’t like being out in the big wide world on his own. It’s about sitting silently and patiently by the hedge just below the spot where there is a blackbird’s nest and waiting for the weakest of the fledglings to fall from the nest to certain disembowelment, and then proudly bringing bird with bloody entrails dangling and depositing it in the middle of the living room floor. Outside is fun if you are a Henry, unless, it is dark.
Ask Henry Pupkin (to give him his full title) to go out for a wee after dark and you are onto a loser. Instead of dashing headlong to the farthest boundary of the property to wreak some sort of havoc, he slinks into the kitchen, his side pressed against the kitchen base units, getting ever closer to the ground until he becomes as one with the kick board and lies on his back with a front paw waving rhythmically in the air like a Chinese Luck Cat. Any attempt to pick him up is met with an Oscar-winning performance of a dead dog, and if an attempt is made to stand him upright so he can exit the kitchen into the garden under his own steam, he develops jelly-legs and cannot support himself. Quite simply Henry is afraid of the dark and the only way to get him outside is to arm oneself with one of those enormous floodlight torches so that the back of the house is better lit that most football stadiums and to go with him until he has done what is needed. I don’t have to tell you how much fun that is when it’s pouring with rain or blowing a gale. The things we do for our dogs eh?