A Corner’s Been Turned
Albert Claude is way off in the distance, a dark grey blur against the frosted brightness of the winter field. I’m useless at judging distance but at a guess, he’s probably a hundred or so meters away. Through my camera zoom I can just about see his head above the tall standing grasses. He’s following a scent. A moment ago I couldn’t spot him, his head must have been down, at ground level, busy nose sucking in smells. Now his head is up, his nose tipped high, and higher again. Concealed by tangled undergrowth I’m imagining there’s a lifted front paw, poised to power off as soon as the brain decides the scent driven direction of travel. If a dog can be said to stand on tip toes, Albert Claude’s doing it now.
Although it’s too far away for me to see, I think his nose is twitching, inhaling hard in a finely skilled effort at catching invisible smells which are floating around on frozen air. Smells left in the air by who? Or what? Roe deer perhaps, or possibly sanglier, wild boar. Both are common here and we see them on this particular route through the woods and fields. Usually we spot them in the distance, sometimes they’re closer, but they’re easily startled by our presence.
Albert’s scent tracking prowess is impressive. Perhaps it’s the small percentage of standard schnauzer in his DNA as none of his sisters show anything close to his dedication to tracking the local wildlife. Or maybe it’s just how he is. I don’t think his prey drive is lethal. He’s scared of Cosette Cat if she moves one small – but naughty – paw towards him when he’s stalking her from sofa to kitchen. Nevertheless, I’m thankful we’ve yet to find out what he’d actually do if he caught up with the source of the scents he so enjoys following.
He’s on the move now and I watch, marvelling at Albert’s intricate loops and weaves across the stiff, frost covered ground, the scent pulling him here and there. It’s exhilarating seeing him absorbed in a world unique to him in this moment. Softly I press the shutter, got him. I click away a couple more not very good shots and lower my camera.
I can feel a stiff, awkward easing back into taking photos of the dogs on our daily walks. It’s been a little while since I’ve done this. The camera has sat on my desk since Renae’s death. One morning I took it with me but it was too soon. I couldn’t do it. It was too soon to take any photos that wouldn’t have Renae in them. I didn’t want to capture our family bereft of her. As it always will be from now on. It’s a curious reaction to taking photos that I go through when one of the dogs die. It’s the seecond time I’ve noticed it happen.
When Twinkle died I couldn’t take any photographs for three weeks after her death. I don’t recall it with Susie-Belle, but her death coincided with my dad’s final decline and death a few months later and a lot from that time is blurred. I’ve written before about this response but it’s a sub conscious reaction. Until it happened again now, I’d forgotten it.
Here he comes, hurtling along the gritty, ice covered path. I kneel down, point the lens at my happy dog Albert Claude, ready to capture him in full leap without a worrying thought in his head. I don’t think I’ll get the perfect shot today, but a corner has been turned. A part of our daily routine is back in place.