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Kerri McLean

As we stepped out into the storm even the dog looked at me as if to say 'Go for a walk in this? Aye right...'

Kerry Mclean


Kerry caught in a storm

Kerry caught in a storm

Kerry caught in a storm

It's been a stormy old week hasn't it, with gale force winds and snowy showers waiting for us outside our front doors. It's the kind of weather that makes you want to batten down the hatches and stay cuddled up all day on the sofa, watching old movies and eating soup and dunking big lumps of crusty white loaf, well buttered, into it.

I'd happily close the curtains and wait for summer to come except for two reasons. The first is that until the lottery win comes in, I have to brave the weather and the commute to Belfast for work several times a week.

The second, twice daily reason for me to step outside is my dog, Tarka. I can't imagine not having her in the house, my constant shadow as I potter about, especially when I'm rustling up dinner.

She knows that if you hang around a clumsy cook for long enough, there's bound to be a scrap or two of something tasty that makes its way on to the floor.

She's a ball of endless enthusiasm for whatever we're doing (unless it's a bath for her…) and limitless love for those she comes into contact with.

She doesn't ask for a lot in return, just food and a few walks each day. So I feel very mean when I resent having to forgo the comfort of my armchair and heat of a blanket to take her out.


One night earlier this week, I could put it off no longer and, having wrapped myself in the warmest winter coat I have, stepped out into what can only be described by someone as overly dramatic as myself as a raging tempest.

Even the dog threw a look over her shoulder as if to say, 'Go for a walk in this? Aye, right...'

We managed a quick 10 minutes, she did what needed to be done, I bagged and binned it and then the two of us hotfooted it back to the house. I say hotfooted but my tootsies were in fact frozen and soaking wet.

It was around the halfway point on our walk that I realised my footwear wasn't as waterproof as I'd hoped and by the time we were within sight of home on the return journey, I could actually hear my feet squelching with every step.

Both of us were delighted to make it back through the front door but the reception we received was very different.

My children bounded up with a towel to dry off Tarka and cuddles to get her warmed up again while my husband took one look at me, standing there, dripping on the mat and fell about laughing.

It seems that it wasn't only my shoes that weren't waterproof - my mascara had run in rivers down my face. 'You look like a member of Kiss!', he told me. Who said romance was dead, eh?

I remember thinking that it was a great idea for anyone ill or elderly

This excursion made me think back to last summer when I met a couple visiting our little close, posting adverts for their business through the letterboxes. They were, they told me, professional dog walkers and would, for a fairly small sum, come and collect your dog each day to take him or her out for a long walk.

I remember thinking that it was a great idea for anyone ill or elderly, for whom physical restrictions meant that they were no longer able to take their pets out for a promenade.

I was shocked then to be told that the majority of their clients were actually businessmen and women who wanted, partly, to ensure their animals had some company while they were out at work but mainly, to avoid having the chore of dog walking at the end of an exhausting day in the office.

I didn't really understand it at the time. There's no way, I thought, that I would forgo that evening exercise with my girl, a rare bit of thinking time, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature all around me.

But this week, after getting soaked and frozen, I may just change my mind. How lovely it would be to wave the dog off on her walk from the comfort of my nice warm living room, with a cup of tea in my hand, mascara intact and my feet warm and most importantly, dry.

Belfast Telegraph