• Kate Clarke

The Vera Polka

Your favourite black dog, Vera, tried to round up a man on the beach yesterday evening.

You know what she's like. A man's dog. Your dog. It was a deep, instant love thing between you two, even though you only had her for a year.

You and love at first sight, Terry.

You and black dogs. You aways felt she could read your mind.

We assumed, because she came to us bony and dandruffed, terrorised, and wary of every falling leaf, that she would prefer the quietness of a woman. But she came alive when you were near. It became a joke between us. For a grubby, feral, four-legged tank, she was an absolute coquette. I would be on the floor with her, sweet-talking, and scratching her hot belly, having served her breakfast, and taken her for her favourite muddy trek. You would raise an eyebrow, or put down your book and that flicker of movement, out of the corner of her eye, would prompt her to shoot across the room and park herself onto your feet, bottom wriggling, eyes shining. All adoration.

She loves me. She trusts me. She leans into me heavily for reassurance. I call her princess. But I don't get 'The Vera Polka' - the joyous morning routine of slapping, dancing feet and wildly mobile limbs that greeted you each time you came downstairs.

The man on the beach was just a dark speck in the distance. She rocketed towards him, lassoed around behind him, and sped back to me. Then she bombarded him again, pivoted in a tighter loop, nosing his hand for a split second. This same thundering routine, over and over again, sand flying, Vera's daft grin.

He and I laughed about it across the distance.

I have been avoiding this beach, with its gorse-lined trail down to the sand. The path looks like every one that led us down to the Mediterranean on our trips over the years. That's why we called this spot 'the Marseillan beach', despite the fact that it sits under pearl-grey Welsh skies, not cornflower blue ones. I have started to drift back there occasionally, but in the evening, when the rockpools shine like mercury and the sands are deserted. You and I never came here in the evening.




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