Dogs are wonderful creatures that have provided companionship to us humans for thousands of years. However, they require their exercise, so for millions of people worldwide, walking the dog is a daily calendar entry. Here are some of the breeds of dog walkers that can be found in Malta.
1. The Batty Old Lady
As she walks past, wearing a green and pink floral dress (that was probably curtains 20 years ago), pushing a swanky pram and cooing platitudes to the occupant, you think “Xi ħlew, another nanna taking her grandchild for a stroll.”
Then the “grandchild” yaps and snarls. Yes – this is how she takes her dog for a walk. In. A. Pram. Notwithstanding the fact that both of her hips are made of titanium and fitted at Mater Dei, whereas the pooch’s joints are pristine, no tarmac will burn the toe-pads of her darling Rambo.
Usually seen walking: A Pomeranian
2. The Biebżobbu
This guy’s usual attire is a pair of cut-off denim shorts that just about cover his scrawny buttocks, a wife-beater Abanderado singlet (off-white) and a short-sleeved shirt that once belonged to a cousin who worked as a fax machine technician.
You’ll probably fail to notice his dog until he rasps “Ejja ħaqq! Gary, fej’ iż-żobb bqajt?” Gary trundles to meet him, stubby tail wagging furiously, stopping only to pee on the legs of the two old ladies sitting on the bench outside the każin.
Usually seen walking: Kelb tal-kaċċa ta’ Malta, with cropped tail.
“Mhux pur imma ma nsewwiħx ta… inti tieħu gost kieku xi ħadd jaqtagħlek il-bajd?”
3. The Supermum
Heads turn when she passes; some because she’s smoking hot, other’s because she’s so bloody efficient. Her highlighted dirty blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail and she wears a casual sweater and sporty leggings, which all just work to create the perfect look.
Her face is gorgeous, but obscured by her designer shades and the iPhone she has glued to her ear as she snaps “Yes Bepp, ħan, the Q5 is better than the Q3 coz of the kids hux.” Two adorable children, one 3 and one 7 years old, walk obediently alongside her, holding hands. The dog is securely held by a brightly coloured rope leash, but it’s hardly necessary, since he happily plods along, taking up the rear. The compact discipline with which this unit moves would make a Roman phalanx envious.
Usually seen walking: A massive, yet hypnotically calm Golden retriever.
4. The Noob
This poor fellow has always wanted a dog, and now that he’s moved out of mummy’s plastic-swathed salott, he’s finally free to get one. So he does. He then buys the swankiest harness, collar, treat holder, poop bag holder, leash and tag that Amazon offers.
He lovingly dresses his dog in all of the above and leaves the house, where the dog proceeds to take him for a walk. The leash is pulled taut, the walker is red-faced, sweating and swearing, with torn flip-flops and rope-burns on his hands. The dog is all over the place, zig-zagging between parked cars, lunging at cats, other dogs and Range Rovers and generally orbiting a spot 2m ahead of the Noob.
Usually seen walking: A high energy purebreed, either an Alaskan malamute or a boxer.
5. The Athlete
Lycra shrouds this fine specimen as he sweatily thumps along the Sliema front at 2pm in August. Much like the pixelated serpent on a Nokia 3310, he swerves and shimmies to avoid the unhurried throng, stopping only to let his canine companion urinate on the padlocks at Love as he jogs on the spot.
His wrist is encircled by his Fitbit and his co-runner’s leash. They are a symphony of movement, as their combined six limbs propel them forth into a life of health and smugness.
Usually seen walking: A brindle whippet.
6. The Part-timer
This guy is 23, sporting a vest, baggy shorts (ta’ ġewwa) and a pair of Arena karkur. The dog is connected to him by a thin leash, with one sad scraggly poop bag tied to the loop. He alternates between using his phone for texting, stocking up on Razz berries at Pokéstops and chatting with his friends.
“Aw man, ija, walking the dog hux. Ħeqq, yes, Blackie tax-xiħa hux.” The dog is constantly in danger of being destroyed by cars, other dogs and potholes, but this guy honestly does not give a shit. The only reason Blackie is getting his exercise is because the Part-timer is a non-paying tenant at his parents’ and the occupancy of the squalid room where he watches porn and plays on his PS comes at the price of a weekly dog walk.
Usually seen walking: Kelb tal-but with scarily protruding eyeballs.
7. The Dog Whisperer
He strides proudly along, wearing a tight black t-shirt stretched across a muscular chest. His gaze is always forward, with his chin held high. In his right hand, 3 leashes, all held loosely looped around his wrist. In his left hand, a clicker and a handful of smelly treats. Walking just under a metre behind him, noses smartly pointing forwards, are three well-behaved dogs. To his left saunters a fourth, off the leash but disciplined as a yogi.
When he stops to chat with an admirer, all four pups stop, sit and wait attentively. The sky could come crashing around this unit and that wouldn’t be reason enough to break the rules.
Usually seen walking: A German shepherd cross (off leash), a Labrador Retriever, a Border Collie and a Fox Terrier (leashed). Occasionally a Shih-tzu, but he’s just walking it for a client.
8. The Pensioners
Not really walkers per se. They sit on a bench on the Msida seafront and eat one scoop of Busy Bee ice cream each from a paper cup. They take vanilla because that’s the flavour Butch likes, and he can lick the cup afterwards. Theirs is a daily outing and it would take a major calamity to keep them away from that bench.
Butch tries to assassinate every passing dog or child on a scooter, hence why they keep him up on the bench between them most of the time. They always have a friendly word for fellow dog walkers, baby walkers or just walkers in general.
Usually seen ‘walking’: The ugliest Yorkshire Terrier you’ve ever seen.