Captain Midnight here aboard the Henriette Antoinette.
She’s a fine vessel, built in 1920 and still going strong, which Himself – also being a bit long in the tooth – found very encouraging. Herself took the picture from what he insists on calling the pointy end, as she navigated us through the treacherous, crocodile infested, backwaters of The Loosdrechtse Plassen, somewhere between Utrecht and Amsterdam.
Himself was First Officer, under my command as Captain (naturally) with Herself as pilot. He’d like you to think otherwise, but frankly, he didn’t have much to do apart from turning the wheel now and again when we told him to.
When we got to the lake, we crossed a stretch of open water to dock at the local equivalent of the Royal Yacht Club for a spot of lunch. Disgracefully, even old sea dogs like me weren’t allowed inside the premises so the entire ship’s company dined on the terrace instead: a rare and welcome act of solidarity.
The return voyage offered frequent opportunities for viewing the indigenous wildlife. Herself alleged that she saw many aquatic birds but by the time she had pointed them out, all we could see were ripples where – according to her – they had been until the moment before we looked. We did manage to scare up a family of geese by gunning the engine, but old Henriette Antoinette was no match for a pair of black Friesian stallions galloping by the waterside.
Back at the mooring, Himself got out his fishing tackle and lobbed the line over the side of the jetty. We had a tricky moment when I mistook the float for a ball and jumped in to rescue it. He accused me of “frightening the fish away” and yelled at me to get out of the water.
Calls himself a fisherman?
He couldn’t catch a cold.
International dog-about-town Captain Midnight here, reporting from the mean streets of Utrecht. Herself was very keen for me to come and meet her Dutch family. I’m pleased to say that they are a friendly bunch and have made me feel very welcome.
Himself would have pined if we’d left him behind in England so we let him come along as well. But he’s a country boy really, not much used to traffic (especially all those bicycles) and a bit prone to panicking and dashing off after pigeons. So, as a precaution, I’ve been taking him everywhere on the lead. It’s also coming in handy to stop him jumping in the gracht.
That’s Dutch for canal, by the way, for all you monoglots.
Walking on the lead is an important skill. It takes a bit of practice but it’s worth the time and effort required to train your human. Mine is coming on quite well although his performance does still leave something to be desired.
He usually obeys direct commands but I don’t think Himself actually understands the practical implications of being joined to another creature by a piece of rope. Namely, that the arrangement works best when both are heading in roughly the same direction at roughly the same speed. Also – obvious though it may seem to you and me – that it is not possible for us to pass a lamppost on both sides at once.
He can generally be trusted not to run off when we get close to home so I sometimes let him off the lead to make his own way indoors. He looks so pleased with himself when he finds the right front door that I wag my tail to tell him what a good boy he’s been. Positive reinforcement and lots of encouragement are, as we know, the keys to successful training.
Now we’re safely indoors again, it’s time for a delicious locally-sourced supper (VitaKraft Beefstick and Biscuits) and an early evening snooze.
So long for now, superdog fans.