Rufus is my walking companion. He’s a beautiful black Cocker Spaniel, about 4 years old and quite large for his breed. He’s been walking on the hills with me for about 3 years and I think that’s where his big bones have come from.
He is a character. He loves the outdoors and is more than capable of out distancing me. When I was training for the last trek, he was one thing that spurred me on. His pitying looks as I struggled to keep up with him were all the incentive I needed to push myself a little further than I thought I could go. He never complains, though.
He’s always loved paddling in water but about two years ago, he took his first proper swim in a local river. Now I can’t keep him out of water. We have several favourite walks but they are all characterised by the presence of water – be it a river, a lake or a reservoir.
This week, we paid a visit to the River Tawe, not far from its source, near Craig Y Nos. There’s a great mile or so of cascading, tumbling waterfalls and pools and while I walk along the bank, Rufus makes his way up through the water itself. Lately, I’ve got into the habit of throwing stones for him to chase and recover. If I don’t throw the stone, he will bark and yap at me until I do. If I don’t throw it properly (too far or in a particularly fast flowing bit of water) he will bark and yap at me. If I don’t throw it quickly enough, he will bark and yap at me. It’s fair to say he knows what he wants while I am still learning.
Once the stone is in the water, he has to retrieve it. He usually manages to bring a stone out of the water and deposit it on the bank. I once watched him spend 10 minutes bringing stones out of Llyn y Fan Fawr while I was having a coffee break. Each one was neatly lined up on the bank of the lake. Any longer and the lake would have been dredged clean.
Rufus sticks with me through all kinds of weather. I’ve turned back when his feet have become encased in snow, clinging to his fur. I’ve dragged him back to the car when the wind and snow have turned his face white. Both times he would have gone on.
I even have conversations with him.
What more do I want from a walking companion?