Sunday, 19 April 2015

Psychogeographer in Residence at Willow’s Birthday Walk

As a blogger and psychogeographer, on Sunday I was invited to document Willow’s birthday walk (4 years old) in Hawksworth Woods, Horsforth. This was Willow’s inaugural walk in the newly appointed academic position of Horsforth’s Psychogeography Dog Fellow 2015, so I think it’s best if she tells her own story:

A number of humans arrived at the house at around 2.00 (including that weird walking women from 2 doors down who kissed me the other day and then got swollen lips, LOL!). Because of all the visitors in my gaff I got really excited and ran around a lot, practically knocking people over with my tail - I knew we were off out somewhere. Humans take so bloomin’ long to get ready and set out, however after allowing them to talk nonsense for five minutes, we were off!

I managed to calm down by the time we had to cross the road and behaved very well on the walk over to the woods. Here is me standing at the curb like my Dad told me to. I was rather troubled by the rules that I usually follow as, now that I am an official psychogeographer, I thought that this meant that I could, basically, do what I wanted. When my fellowship was announced, I was told that psychogeographers had historically been of a rebellious nature, so when I had to still wear my collar and continue to follow instructions I was somewhat bemused. Anyway, the minute I was off the lead I thought: I’ll show you who is in charge, it’s my party and I’ll be naughty if I want to!

I overheard the walking woman talking to my Mum about how hard it was to photograph me as I wouldn’t keep still for a minute – I mean it’s my birthday, right, and the wood smells so good and they’ve taken my lead off. So she had to drag me back from time to time for, what they called, a ‘photo op’. Here I am posing when Mum told me to pause for a moment so a photo could be taken of 'my best side'.

I found my current favourite stick in exactly the same place I left it (no other dog had stolen it – phew). And I spent the whole walk doing what retrievers do – fetching sticks that had been thrown for me by humans. I mean what could be better: imposing my will on the humans by carrying the stick up to them, dropping it, looking cute, and then making them throw it again – ROTFL! It was absolutely worth wearing myself out just for the sheer joy of getting them to throw the stick over and over again. That psychogeography woman told me that the philosopher Montaigne said something like “Do I play with my cat or does my cat play with me?”. Well, suckers, don’t be in any doubt. Here I am getting the young humans to throw the stick – get them trained early, I say ; )

I appreciate that I’m still finding my feet (get it) as a psychogeographer, but that walking woman kept giving me really confusing and contradictory advice. She said that the walk should be playful and based on chance encounters (a ‘dérive’ she called it – a pretentious French term, I called it), and that there should be no privileged hierarchy in the group, but then the humans kept giving me, and the smaller humans, instructions. So I decided that we should get together and lead the group, so here is me with a small human at the front in what you might call our ‘avant garde’ position ; )

At the end of the walk, which I do every day and had already done earlier today – not that I am complaining I love being outside, running free, sniffing free – I always get to play in the river. I can’t tell you how marvelous it is to do two of my favourite things at the same time. The weird walking woman said that retrieving sticks and splashing in the river would be the equivalent for her of drinking wine and playing with her gerbil. While you may think this is a euphemism, I happen to know that she has a gerbil – my furry cousin who lives two doors down – so I know that she really understands that picking up sticks in the woods and jumping around in the water is a fab thing to be doing on one’s birthday. So thank you all my human friends, large and small, and that mad psychogeography woman (who always eats all our cheese when she comes round), for giving me a lovely birthday walk. And thank you to the University of Leeds for endowing me with the new fellowship. I promise to be the best psychogeography dog you have ever had, if not the first!

Related (animal-psychogeography) links:
Walking with a Gerbil: Pas Le Grand Départ Dérive

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