I love to walk. Given the choice, I will walk until my legs fall off, figuratively speaking (my husband took it literally and walked me 14 miles on one day in New York City last year, but that’s a story for another day).When Kevin and Preetha moved home with Pop last year, I thought I would have a companion for my long walks, and as logically follows, inspiration to continue them. Turns out “walking the dog” is not quite the experience I expected it to be.
So here’s how it goes:
DRAGGED! from front stoop like I am being pulled behind a race car; STOP! Sniff, sniff, sniff. Pee. DASH! forward at top speed. STOP! Sniff. Pee. Back scratch, back scratch.
DASH! forward at top speed. Yank my arm from its socket. Pee. Stroll along for 1/2 block, lull me into a false sense of security, and then REVERSE! course before I can stop my forward momentum, and yank my arm out of its socket the other way.
RUN! erratically through the yard of a vacant house, nose to the ground SNIFFING! Pee on whatever smells. Walk. Sniff. Walk. Sniff. Walk. Sniff.
Pull me up a hill of pine straw until we are on a vertical incline, walk/sniff back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, preparing the spot. POOP! Back scratch, back scratch. Wait patiently while I struggle to get the bag open and scoop up the disgustingly warm and foul-smelling remains. Leave bag for return.
12 steps. Stop. Sniff. 7 steps. Stop. Sniff. 46 steps. Stop. Sniff. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until…
STOP! His body stiffens, nose pointed like an arrow, front paw lifted like the hunting dog he is bred (sort of) to be. There it is…The Squirrel. It turns, sees us and sits back on his haunches, flashing his bright white belly and doing the gopher dance from Caddyshack. As though it relishes the torment, it saunters away with his little hop-skip, hop-skip, skittering up a tree to look down and laugh at the earthbound dog.
It is more than Pop can take. He LUNGES! with enough force to pull a 60-year-old woman three times his body weight and with a much higher center of gravity over onto her face, but then, at least, I am dead weight, and he cannot pull me far. The Squirrel wins.
Whew! This is a very different kind of exercise from my romantic dream of a companion trotting peacefully by my side, sharing my joy at the blooming flowers or changing leaves. But that’s okay. I probably don’t match his romantic dream of a companion with whom to run free with enough speed to create a wind to blow his fur, ecstatically liberated from the confines of a house where he can’t even poop.
After almost a year of such walking, he and I have come to a workable truce. I walk him, allowing him to sniff at will, until he is so tired he cares about nothing but returning home to collapse on the cool, tile floor. He poops in the common area mulched beds where I can use pinestraw as a buffer between me and his disgusting excrement. I bring water so he can stay hydrated. He doesn’t pull me over (mostly).
A grandmother and her grand-dog. Proof that generational differences can be overcome.