There seem to be few things better than digging in Hercules’ doggy life, eating and carrying large stones come close. So it was wonderful to see Herc’s enthusiasm for his favourite pastimes had returned after a recent nasty illness.

I hadn’t expected to sit for The Plaidy Lady again until after Christmas and I was delighted when she rang to ask me if I would look after her two black labradors, Hercules and Hellene for ten days.

Herc is looking rather thin as his lockjaw like symptoms left him unable to open his mouth to eat or pick up his beloved soft toy, duckie. His sister, Helle, isn’t faring any better, having a rather pronounced limp due to arthritis in her wrist. So it’s light duties when it comes to exercising the hairy pair these days, although I don’t think either of them realise that they should be taking things steady, not if the frantic digging on the beach is anything to go by.

Herc’s work started as a hole which quickly became a trench that is progressing towards the sea. He digs all the while with the biggest rock he can just about manage in his mouth. The rock is never buried, instead Herc carries it back up to the house where he drops it, usually inches from my toes, on the decking. The cairn is coming along nicely!

Should I praise Herc on his efforts, Helle, not wanting to be outdone, commences burrowing too, although she does like leaving her stone, ball or whatever flotsam or jetsam she’s found washed up on the shore in it, several tennis balls have been lost this way.

The other afternoon, between walks, we were all squashed up together on the sofa in the snug. The dogs were trumping so horribly that I paused the film I was watching and took them down to the beach for an empty (I had sufficient pooh bags in my pocket) Unfortunately, both of my smelly canine charges now regard the seashore as their playground, digging taking precedence over toiletting!

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