Well, That Was Awkward

Rudolph Rupert Rocket Dog was spinning in circles yesterday morning, so I decided to take him out for a walk. Normally we turn left at the end of the driveway and either walk the 2 mile loop past the huge Neolithic hill grave or 2 mile round trip to the settlement of two houses, the residents of one of which have chickens, geese, turkeys, sheep, and donkeys hanging around in their backyard (which isn’t anywhere as big as you are probably now imagining). But sometimes I hang a right and go up the hill to or past the set of wind turbines that is a half mile or so away (the closest turbine is closer, although if you follow the farm roads/tractor paths instead of bushwhacking, it takes 2 miles to get to it). Normally, I don’t go this way for a number reasons not least of which is that the distance from the house is such that RRRD generally poops in front of one of the neighbor’s houses, leaving me to either leave a plastic bag full of poop there for forty-five minutes or so or to carry the swinging thing with me for the vast majority of the walk. But yesterday I turned right anyway.

We never even made it to that last house that RRRD likes to poop in front of. Because at the farmhouse just before it, we were met by the two dogs who live there, an elderly border collie and the mostly Jack Russell terrier who is RRRD’s grandma. Normally these two old ladies don’t like RRRD much, so there is a bit of growling and posturing and then off we go without the two dogs pulling their normal annoying stunt of following (for miles!) anyone who walks or jogs by.

But yesterday was different. Both of the dogs were very rather visibly in heat.

A lot of sniffing ensued. Which progressed to carousing. Which progressed to, well, you can imagine the attempts, and none of my entreaties of But it’s your grandmother! cooled anyone’s ardor. At least the border collie, apparently grasping that it was mission impossible (she’s two to three times taller that RRRD), gave up and wandered off. But Grandma could not be dissuaded.

RRRD should only be firing blanks at this point and it boggles the mind that a dog as old as Grandma could still bear a litter. But, still, even though the neighbors are carelessly letting their two dogs in heat roam freely, I could hardly stand there in front of their house (and cow shed, where I could hear someone working) and let RRRD and his grandma do the deed. So I literally dragged RRRD home and Grandma followed us the whole way. After I locked RRRD in the house, she persisted, the two of them standing on either side of our glass-paned front door, scratching frantically at it.

In the end, I had to pick her up and carry all 15 lbs of Grandma all the way back up the hill to her house. She was very sweet and cuddly the whole time, of course (which is not her normal demeanor) but, phwoah, not only do her owners let her roam freely, she appears to have never once had a bath. I know that RRRD was born in the neighbor’s husband’s cowshed and spent his first few months there, some of it sleeping nestled against the bull he keeps there, and given that Grandma also reeked of straw and was splattered in cow poo to boot, I would venture a guess that my neighbors also lock her in with their cows at night. Which is to say that farmers have a very different take on pet ownership than the rest of us do (and the border collie and the Jack Russell are pets; they aren’t used as working dogs). But I guess when you’re used to having life and death control over cows, why would you have the same soft and squishy attitude toward house pets that city slickers do?

Meanwhile, the COVID cases are definitely spiking here in Germany right now, although since testing capacity is way up over last spring, the higher case numbers don’t yet mean we’re hitting the levels of infection that we had last spring. But the acceleration in the number of new cases per day is showing no signs of leveling, so it’s just a matter of days before we’d all be wise to do nothing more than hunker down at home for a few weeks. And we’re not the only ones to have come to this conclusions.

Last night was our weekly grocery shopping excursion and when I gave Spouse a look because he brought a strange brand of toilet paper to the grocery cart–and I don’t mean just strange for us, but strange as in not normally stocked by the store–he shrugged and said people were hamstering TP again already.

It cracks me up that Germans have a cute word that covers all the all of panic buying so you can horde stuff away when we would have to settle for saying “stocking up” or, at it’s most exciting, “panic buying.” I mean, I guess we can squirrel things away, but that just covers the hording end of the process, whereas it feels like to me that to “hamstern” encompasses everything from the going out and collecting to the socking of the things away in your den.

But it’s bonkers that the numbers are skyrocketing here. People are generally excellent about wearing masks and not shaking hands (which Germans are even more gung ho about than the French are about fake cheek kisses). Apparently, the outbreak is more or less down to two things: “young people” who can’t stop partying in large numbers in the crowded bar areas of big towns and everyone who can’t quite seem to manage to stop vacationing, carrying the virus with them either there or back.

I find it baffling. Is it really so hard for to take a year off????? Or even just dial it down a bit so they’re not interacting with hundreds of people at a time???? Do people not believe the virus exists? Do they think they can’t get it? Does it not occur to them that by catching it and/or passing it along they could cause life-changing damage or even kill people or themselves?????

But I guess I never liked partying anyway, so why would I understand?

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