One evening, my mum called. "How about a weekend away with us and the dogs?" she asked.
"Ideal!" I answered wholeheartedly. Parents and dogs. What could go wrong?
From the moment I adopted Caesar, my dad has always been on board. He had a soft spot for the ginger mongrel before I did and still refers to him as 'my pal' whenever we visit. A weekend away, though, would ensure that the pair were anything but 'pals' by the time we arrived home.
After a debate with my parents about bringing two cars or all travelling in one in which I had insisted that one would be better, not least because I don't like driving, it had been decided that Caesar should travel in the back with Damien and I and wearing his car harness. The reason for this was partly because the boot of the car will only fit a small cage if all 5 seats are up and I could not put 2 dogs in there for 2 and a half hours. Caesar, however, can usually be trusted to lie sensibly in the boot without attempting any Houdini style escapes but then there would be limited place for the cases and cool bag full of food. It was a logistical challenge but, after some time, it appeared that the best arrangement was: Caesar in the back in car harness with Damien and I, mum and dad in the front with Sat Nav and Gemma in her small cage in the boot with the suitcases. It was foolproof....
I set off at 4 from my house having frantically and independently packed the car. I had Gemma in the cage, Caesar in his harness and I was pulling off the curb when he began to cry. "Shhhh...." I told him but he wouldn't. The crying continued all the way to my dads house 10 minutes away. It was punctuated with howls and whimpers. "Shhhhhhhhhh......" I tried to stay focused on the road, wincing as the sound bounced around my head.
Caesar and I travelling in the car
"Oh dear," dad said as he took over the drivers seat. "What's all that noise about?" Caesar ignored him and continued along his road to total annihilation of my ear drums. Now sitting next to him, I stroked him, talked to him, shushed him, shouted at him, ignored him, begged him and eventually gave up on him. He was not going to stop crying, it appeared, for the whole trip. By the time we'd picked Damien and mum up from their different places of work, it appeared that the car journey would be a trial for all of us. Dad had stopped the car while I took Caesar to the toilet, I'd tried giving him water and nothing seemed to be working.
When we arrived, after 2 and a half hours of almost unbearable noise making, Caesar turned it up a notch. Dad pulled the car up at the apartment and Caesar began to screech. He had seen two dogs running around on the moorland and the excitement was more than he could take. He knocked into my face and screeched some more. He jumped up at the windows and carried on. Dad had his head on the steering wheel and his elbows over his head trying to drown out the noise as we sat in the car park. It was unbearable.
On the upside, the lodge was beautiful and, relived that Caesar had eventually stopped making use of his vocal range, we were able to settle down to a nice evening meal. Being on the Yorkshire Moors had it's advantages and we got the dogs out for a walk in the heather before the sun went down and the rain set in.
It was a tad windy on the top of the moor. Can you tell?
After a nice evening, we turned in. I'd brought the large crate folded up in the car and opened it up to create a bedroom for Caesar and Gemma. I was relieved when they climbed in straight away and curled up together on the cushion bed that I'd created. We made little fuss about going to bed and left the light on a little while until they were settled. "Phew..." I sighed loudly as I popped my audio book on and fell asleep before I'd even heard a full sentence.
When I woke, the apartment was still in darkness. Something had startled me though and it took a couple of minutes to realise what it was. Caesar was now whimpering quietly in the living room. Every few minutes, he would let out a loud bark and then begin whinnying like a horse again. "You're joking!" I said to Damien but he was fast asleep. I tried to turn over myself but I was awake and after a while it became apparent that Caesar had no plans to allow me to sleep again.
I checked my phone. 4:00am. Damien was stirring now and beginning to complain. I tiptoed to the end of the bed, slid my feet into my trainers and walked into the front of the apartment. Daylight was beginning to filter through the darkness to the tuneless song of Caesar's whines. "Shut up!" I told him impatiently as I slipped open the crate and let him onto the laminated floor. I searched for his lead and slipped his head collar on. "Thanks for this..."
It's not often that you find yourself standing on the moor at 4am. And, although the morning was beautiful, it's not something I'd like to make a habit of. I walked Caesar around a bit and then returned to the apartment. Popping him back in his cage due to the 'no dogs in bedrooms' rule, I hoped that this might settle him. In truth, if not worse, he was much the same as he had been earlier.
At 6am, after two more hours of failed sleep, I took the duvet and retreated to the front room. Perhaps if I slept with him he might calm down, I thought. This, as with my other theories, was not true. I felt completely helpless. 'At least there's no one in the apartment next door,' I found myself thinking as I shuddered in the cold room under the duvet. Caesar paced back and forth on the tiles, his claws tapping on the tiles.
Caesar at a 'dog friendly' pub - shame he decided to scare everyone by suddenly turning into a howling monster and having to be removed when he heard a puppy yapping in the bar!
I try to be patient. I really do. And, often, against my own judgement, I've been told that I am a patient person. Perhaps outwardly that may be true but, inwardly, I scream at situations like this. I lay there and felt my eyes fill. Why was Caesar determined to spoil my birthday weekend. It's hard to remember sometimes that, no matter what you have done for them, at the end of the day they're still just a dog. In a sense, like a spoilt child, they will just make a fuss and carry on when they're not happy. And, unlike children, they will never reach a point where they realise that they aren't the only being on the planet that has ever been cold/hungry/bored/tired.
I have to admit, I don't do well when I'm tired. I don't like my eyes being sore. I don't like feeling drained. I was supposed to be going out walking on the moors. Now all I felt like was having a very long nap. Or, if that failed, crying. Caesar nuzzled my arm under the covers and tried to climb on the leather sofa "no!" I told him sharply and turned over. He began to cry again.
I allowed the thought of putting him in the car and leaving him there while I had a nap to wash over me like a tide of relief and then rejected it. I couldn't do that to him as much as I felt like it...