Underdogs Happy Dogs

The air is notably colder. It condenses, crunches into surface ice. Coffee flask rolls in the passenger foot well: glugs, reassuring. Bags are packed and loaded.
The address is not difficult to find. The house is cute. Here is a child I saw last as waving white fuzz on an ultrasound. Here are the dogs I walked: three years ago over the flattened sands of Castle Rock. Here we are, eating curry and talking names for a newer baby while a blonde elf child scores the dresses on a dance show. A Staffordshire terrier curls underfoot. The other, the scruffy part Lurcher, sleeps on his cushion. You should know his story: that once my friend was having a terrible day and sat on the steps of a theatre. A neglected fur tangle snuck up to sit in comfort with her. She saw the burns on his whippy body and could only take him home. There was talk of the Dog Warden, initially. If we can't home him… the man said. He has a home, she decided. A future.
Curry simmer wobbles the stovetop pan. It is later than we thought: we have talked so well.
Morning starts in a sizzle: bacon, egg, mushrooms, sea salt, fresh pepper. Sandwiches are made, though we claim this unnecessary. Coffee we do not protest.
Next task: parking. And the various duties of a competition: today brings one slick of sick, one bloodied nose, one ice pack to hold to a throat, a few questions; This is Cadets, Ring 15, up to 75kg, is the Instructor here; an improvised rubbish bin: refreshments for the medics who bring both mend and cheer. There's the lad who finds himself solo in his weight division, asks to move up, fights the bigger lad, loses, is glad for the experience.
On the trawl homewards, those sandwiches are fantastic: the coffee superlative.


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