I was chatting with Jake the Dog, as one does, and I told him that I had bought a device to measure how far we walked together. It also keeps track of how many steps I've taken, how many calories I've burned and what my heart rate is.
"I hope it's not a fitbit," said Jake.
"No it isn't," I told him. "Why do you ask?"
"Those things are over engineered to the point of insanity," said Jake. "You can store your information in the cloud and examine it over time, rate yourself against your goals, share your results with your friends, the list goes on. Why does something so simple have to be made so complicated?"
"I agree with you," I said. "I can't for the life of me understand why I'd want to keep a record of my results over time, or tell anybody else about them. Anyway, the graph over time would be a very boring straight line. I walk almost exactly the same distance every day. I take the same number of steps and burn the same number of calories. You walk a lot more than me, of course, because you dash around a lot when I let you off the lead in the park. And sometimes you go for a swim."
"I think it would be much more interesting to record what happens on the walks rather than how far we go," said Jake.
"I agree," I said. "Why don't you start keeping a diary? I'll use my gadget to tell you how far into the walk we are when something interesting happens, and you can record the details."
"What a good idea!" said Jake. "Let's do it."
So here are some extracts from Jake's diary for today. And every day, of course, because dogs live completely in the moment.
Today – 0.1 km
We've just gone out of the front door and I can smell the cat who owns the cul-de-sac. I'm sure he's around here somewhere. Oh look! There he is over by the clump of lilac. I'll just drag Alan over there. Oh dear. The cat isn't moving and it's hissing at me. I don't like that. Alan! Get me out of here.
Today – 0.5 km
We're walking along the grass verge that leads to the reserve. The council has been mowing it and there are clumps of shredded, matted grass from the mower blades scattered here and there. Yummy! I love those things. There's a nice big chewy one right by my feet...
Today – 0.6 km
That was a lovely clump of grass. I enjoyed it so much that I think I'll throw it up so that I can have the pleasure of eating it again. Yes, I was right. It's ever so much tastier the second time around.
Today – 0.7 km
There's a car coming up the road. I'd better flop down on my tummy and watch it go past. Here it comes! Here it comes! Stop pulling so hard on my lead, Alan. I'm not getting up yet. I need to watch the car. Oh! There it goes, round the corner and out of sight. OK Alan, you can stop tugging now. I'm ready to carry on walking.
Today – 0.8 km
Look! There's Oscar and his mum. Oscar smells like a dog, but he doesn't look like any dog I've ever seen before. He's tiny, about the size of my paw. He is covered in fluffy white fur and when he stands on his short, fat hairy legs he just about reaches my ankle. I always sniff his bottom when we meet but he never sniffs mine because he can't reach it without a stepladder and nobody ever takes a stepladder with them on a walk. That would be silly. Even Alan's pockets, copious though they are, aren't big enough for a stepladder.
Oscar's mum says that when the cage he was in first arrived at her house, she honestly thought it was empty. The trouble with Oscar is that he doesn't know he's a small dog. He thinks he's just as big as me and he won't stand for any nonsense. I'm a bit afraid of Oscar, so I always do what he tells me.
Oscar and I have had a lot of erudite conversations through peemail. At the moment we're discussing the knotty problem of lapsarianism. He's a supralapsarianist and I'm an infralapsarianist and neither of us have ever managed to change the other dog's mind. Since Alan is clearly God (though Oscar is not convinced of this) I've asked him for a definitive ruling, but he just laughs, calls me a good boy and gives me a treat. That's OK – the treats are yummy. Perhaps I need to have a few more theological debates with Alan...
Today – 1.2 km
We're well into the reserve now. There's a thickly wooded valley to our left and I can smell rabbits and rats. Their scent trails criss-cross the ground that Alan and I are walking on and so I keep zig-zagging around Alan as I follow them. Alan is constantly spinning round to untangle the lead that I've wrapped around his legs. If his name was Jenny I could call him Spinning Jenny, but it isn't so I don't. Pity...
There's a man coming. Hello man! Look at me wagging my tail at you. Oh goody! He's stopped and he's scratching my ears. I think I'll jump up and lick his face and see if I can break his nose by banging my forehead into it. Why is he swearing? Why is Alan pulling me away from him so hard? He's a nice man. I want to lick him again.
Today – 1.5 km
We're hurrying across the bridge and leaving the man behind. There are lots of good smells wafting up from the gully beneath us. I've really got to stop and pee over the side of the bridge onto them. Hmmm... The troll who lives under the bridge looks rather angry with me. His head is quite wet. I wonder how that happened?
Today – 1.8 km
We're crossing the road now. There's another reserve on the other side. When we reach the road, I sit at the kerb until Alan tells me it's time to cross. Alan's very boring. We only cross when there aren't any cars coming. Where's the fun in that? I watch the cars as they go past. I'd really like to get closer to them, but Alan's a terrible spoilsport about it.
We're across the road and we've gone into the other reserve. The track is covered with acorns. I wonder what they taste like? Oh, yuck! They're horrible. I can't understand what the birds see in them.
Today – 2.0 km
I've got a stick. It's the best stick ever. Well, it will be the best stick ever once I've modified it a bit. There are a lot of twigs sticking out of it and they get in the way when I try and pick it up. What I need to do is bite them off one by one and drop them on the ground.
There – all the twigs have gone and now it really is the best stick ever. I think I'll pick it up and take it home with me.
Oh, look! There's Bobby the fox terrier. I'll just drop my stick for a moment so that I can say hello. Bobby's a ball dog. He's utterly besotted with chasing the tennis balls that his mum throws for him. I've never really understood what dogs see in that. Balls are very good to chew (well, actually, everything is very good to chew). But chasing them? No, not really.
Today – 2.1 km
Where's my stick? Didn't I have a stick? I'm sure that I had a stick. I must have been mistaken.
Today – 2.3 km
We've come out of the reserve and we're back to the main road. I'm just sitting on the pavement watching the cars and the cars are watching me warily as they go past. I think they might be wary because I'm a big dog. Alan's just told me to "Walk on". As usual he's waited for the worst possible moment. The road is completely empty. Oh! There's a fascinating smell here right in the middle of the road. I think there might have been a dead rabbit here once. I need to stop and appreciate the bouquet. Perhaps I'll roll in it. Why is Alan pulling so hard on the lead? He gets very annoyed with me when I do that. How come he can get away with it? This is definitely a them and us world. I'm one of us and Alan is one of them.
Today – 2.5 km
Is that a jogger? It is! It's a jogger. I like joggers. I can make them swerve.
Today – 2.6 km
Hello Rose. Rose is a full size poodle. She's just been clipped and she looks beautiful. Hello Rose. Hello Rose. Why won't you say hello to me, Rose? She never speaks to me. She's very stand-offish. Perhaps it's because she's French. Her mum always talks to Alan. Life isn't fair.
Today – 2.8 km
There's a children's playground just ahead with all the usual bits and pieces of apparatus in it. There aren't any children though. That's a shame. I like licking children. They are much tastier than adults because they have such highly refined soap avoidance skills. Never mind. In the absence of children I can at least eat some of the cork chips that line the playground. There's always a silver lining. Win some, lose some. It's all swings and roundabouts.
Today – 3.1 km
We're back on the road that leads to our house and there's a car coming. It's slowing down! I think I'll sit here and watch it. Oh yes! It's coming to a stop just by where I'm sitting. This is wonderful! I'm going to pull my ears back, grin all over my face and wag my tail just as fast as I can. There are two people getting out of the car. Hello people. Look at me. I'm Jake and I want to lick you all over. Look at me. Look at me.
Oh no! They ignored me completely. How could they do that to me when I'm wagging so hard? Just for that, I'm going to pee on all four of their tyres. So there.
Today – 3.6 km
We're home. The cat who owns the cul-de-sac is exactly where he was when we left. I'm not going to go and sniff him this time. I'm going to go into the house and I' going to play with my stuffed chicken toy. Maybe Alan will throw it for me.