Legend speaks of a time when the continents were one and strange creatures roamed the earth. Wild animals inhabited the forests and plains and evolutionary forces were in full swing. Myths tell of this time and perhaps the strangest creatures of all that roamed the savannas were the couches, sofas and even the whispered of mighty settee.
Millions of years later Wizard, Lucy and I still venture out twice a day in search of the mythical and elusive couch, as we have done for the last four years. Three mighty hunters stalking the streets, hills and bushy areas of New Plymouth in the hope of a sighting of one of these secretive and rare beings.
These expeditions are the high point of both Wizard's and Lucy's day, unless it's after tea in which case Lucy will decline the offer of an outing and remain glued to her bed in the corner, pretending to be invisible and giving a masterful impersonation of a rug. It has been pointed out to her that rugs very seldom pass wind but if walk time is past her window of opportunity she will not budge, not even for reason or logic.
Once harnessed and collared however, both will bound out the front door with more enthusiasm than an archaeologist with a new shovel, noses twitching, ears up and the first signs of a lively prance in their step€¦ there are many exciting things to be seen and sniffed at in the course of even the most mundane of expeditions, and certainly in Wizard's case no opportunity to urinate on any of these things should be passed up.
Recently there have been earthworks aplenty to investigate as high speed internet cabling is being installed in the neighbourhood. I have it on good authority from Lucy that the smells unearthed in the piles of soil are fascinating and should be sniffed at for at least 10 minutes each. As yet no sofas have been spied hiding in the holes or lurking behind the piles of dirt, but Wizard has decided that this dirt is edible. He's the only dog I know of that poos potting mix.
Several people in the area know us and see us walking every day and a lot of them go out of their way to stop and say hello to Wizard and Lucy - apparently I am not cute enough to warrant a scratch behind the ears, after all, I'm just the guy with the greyhounds, Wizard and Lucy are the star attraction.
We'll often encounter other dogs on our walks, all obviously out looking for couches as well, and when we do meet these other dogs Wizard's protective instincts come to the fore. Without fail, as soon as another dog is spotted, Wizard will slow his pace until I'm slightly ahead of him, then cross behind me, generously placing me between the new dog and himself. Such a brave hunter.
Once a month we meet with other Taranaki hounds and head out for a pack hunt in search of the ever elusive sofa, but in reality these get-togethers are more of an opportunity for the dogs to form an orderly queue and urinate things into submission while the bitches stand and wait, rolling their eyes and sighing.
Most of the time our hunting expeditions are uneventful, however there has been, much to Lucy's delight, a recent influx of cats to the neighbourhood. While this has been something of a distraction in the quest of finding the perfect couch it has certainly honed Lucy's "lunge reflex€ and strengthened my shoulders, not to mention allowing me to perfect the "brace yourself€ technique employed by dog walkers the world over when they have something at the end of the lead attempting to go from "zero to batshit€ in a very short time and with a very short amount of lead.
Somewhat disturbingly, Lucy has memorized the exact location of every single cat within a five mile radius of home. I have not. This means that as Wizard heads in one direction and Lucy in another, both at high speed and with excessive levels of stubbornness, I'm left looking like I've been crucified in the middle of the street.
A particular hot spot for feline activity is just before the "home stretch€ so we often round the final bend in a tangled mass, lather flying, muscles bunched and ready to spring into action. Wizard and Lucy are having fun but I'm reasonably certain that we resemble nothing more that some bizarre human/canine cats cradle as we reach speeds in excess of what is completely natural without wheels attached.
As we're not just fair weather couch hunters we can be seen out in the foulest of weather, coats on and trying our hardest to get through the experience as quickly as possible, which means we often run that final home straight. Both Wizard and Lucy detest the rain but insist on going out for a walk. With that sort of attitude the whole process is naturally carried out at a higher speed, so much so that I have been seen water skiing past the lounge window on the way back in.
Once the front door is reached, invariably without sighting any couches, leads are off and full plastic bags are disposed of - both hounds are satisfied and that's what these expeditions are all about. After all, it's their walk and not mine (if it was mine, I'd probably take the car).
A short dash through the house and the entire expedition has been worth it. Wizard and Lucy have both been successful. Mission accomplished, a couch has been found.
I wish I could say the same. It's been four years since I sat in comfort.