If Polly knew how many people asked about her wellbeing while on tour she’d be flattered.
I’m not telling her though as I don’t want her to know that she’s the star attraction.
She’s only a dog after all.
Even as I was approaching Brighton a call came through asking to see Polly – it was early days in the van and she wouldn’t show her head. Shame.
Now a week or so later her confidence has grown.
She prances around campsites showing off her Poodle high stepping heritage.
She’ll even (occasionally) get up into the cab without being prodded, nudged, shouted at, or eventually lifted.
Eating and drinking:
She has almost adopted a normal eating regime.
Although normal for Polly would be incomprehensible for a Labrador, or in fact almost any other dog.
Normal for Polly means that during the course of 24 hours she may graze her way through two tiny cups of food, mostly during the night.
Well, some days I’m both convinced and worried, that she doesn’t drink a sip. But now 10 days into the tour she’s drinking fairly normally too. She seemed particularly fond of icy cold Austrian mountain streams.
For Polly life is unpredictable, but pretty damn good.
She never knows where she’ll wake. But she does know that she’ll be fed Iams, twice a day, ideally with a little enhancer.
She hates bumpy roads – oh dear, we’re in Italy just now. Sorry pooch.
She’s not keen on the big corners that result in everything lurching to one side of the van.
But most of all she hates it when Spotify throws up (appropriate, she’ll tell you) some Trent Reznor and her driver insists on pumping up the volume.
While Polly will sleep for hours in the car and arrive refreshed after a journey, she doesn’t yet trust ArchieVan and so crouches on tenter hooks for hours. Then crashes out in relief when the ground around her stops roaring and shaking.
It’s at night though that ArchieVan becomes her friend.
Polly likes a confined space. Ideally walled on five out of six sides. And the bed, under our bed, that we designed for her is her perfect safe house.
As soon as the human bed is made she crawls underneath to her special domain, and while she forgets where she is and bangs her head frequently, she rarely emerges in the morning before I call her out.
Mylo even gave her coloured LEDs for reading by!
What she’s seriously unimpressed by, and I share her feelings, is how the heater turns her domain into an oven while barely raising the temperature in the rest of the van – attention needed there.
Now this is where travel comes into its own.
At home Polly tends to be under my feet all day by the desk, getting lightly kicked, cursed, and otherwise ignored.
But on tour.
Well, on tour she’s getting a good hour or so’s stank every morning. She gets to go to restaurants if I do, and we go for a good look around anything interesting we see.
OK. That’s not entirely true. We see the Alps, they look stunning, but we don’t necessarily go and walk around them.
She’s still under my feet, but gets a regular reassuring head scratch when she looks up, and she no longer trys to get between my feet and the pedals. That’s kinda handy.
Now this is interesting, but positively un-scientific.
In France Polly managed to upset and be upset by just as many dogs as happens in St Just (lots).
The German sense of discipline appealed to her and she sat quietly in several restaurants and cafes and only threatened to dismember one poor innocent fellow canine.
In Switzerland she whimpered after a handsome boy Rottweiler – but I’m sure I also heard her whisper that she’d be still sniffing bums when he was pushing up daisies.
In both Austria and Italy she caused a stir. Locals dogs seemed offended by her high stepping air of superiority. They howled and strained at their leads hoping to bring her down. But Polly and I held our heads high (wonderful, I’m usually the owner who suffers the shame).
In Slovenia? Well, who knows? Polly has already met Louie, Fran’s wolf. I suspect that in his space he’ll take less kindly to her manners. Let’s see.
And toilet time?
I’m sorry folks – but this is part of owning a dog.
And owning a dog who’ll only pee in the perfect spot – assuming of course that she has a pee ready – isn’t always ideal.
So many friends turf their hound into the garden before bed time knowing that it’ll have a tinkle.
Not so Polly.
After 20 minutes of wandering aimlessly around the same spot she’ll sometimes crouch for the shortest time and leave you wondering whether a pee was even possible in that time. And when that involves treading the same spot time and again around some poor frightened early-to-bed tent dweller you have to consider how long it’ll be before someone emerges brandishing a club.
So in conclusion:
So yes, thank you for all the texts, calls and emails asking whether Polly is happy and comfortable on her trip. I think it’s safe to say that she’s having a ball, if only metaphorically so.