I walk my dog every morning. Same time. Same route. If I alter our path, even slightly, he becomes paralyzed with suspicion and sits down, as if to say, “Wait a second, where are you taking me?” In this way, short of putting a Milk-bone in my mouth, he has trained me to be a good boy.
But man, I wouldn’t trade our “walkies” for anything. Sometimes I look down at him and try to imagine what it’s like for him, our daily jaunts. There are so many dogs in Del Ray, even resident along our tiny route, I think he feels, much like a street cop walking his beat, that he’s making sure everyone is still safely behind a screened door, or captive beyond white picket. Only he, he figures, can roam, albeit tethered, to his human.
So, you can imagine the rage he experiences when he comes upon another dog on a leashed stroll. Such audacity! Such hubris! How dare that “fucking labradoodle” (his words, not mine) come prancing down our street like he owns the place. What kind of Apocalypse-Now outcome does that shepherd mix expect from peeing on that specific section of curb? And don’t get him started about “kitties,” who are equally reviled and feared by him.
Suffice to say, we work very hard to avoid other dogs and the human’s they’re walking. We have several proven tactics I have broken down into five terms and their respective meanings:
- Loss and cross: The act of crossing to the other side of the street because you have lost your game of chicken with someone with a bigger or more well-behaved dog heading (unapologetically) straight for you.
- Pooper’s promise: When, to your horror, you forget a doggie waste disposal bag and have to leave the scene of the crime, but not before declaring to anyone in ear shot, “Okay, Fido, we will come right back and pick that up. Right back. I swear.”
- Please Rel-leash Me: When people suddenly can’t read all of the signs on the Mount Jefferson Park Trail that tell them to leash their dogs and, instead of screaming at them because their free-roaming dog is making your restrained dog a tad excited, you simply release your negative energy into the heavens and say nothing.
- Pawsitive ID: When a stray dog is identified and “rescued” on NextDoor Del Ray, but he looks more disappointed than relieved.
- Quavery Bravery: When you bark like hell at another dog whose in his house and the owners fling open the front door and you have to stand-your-ground and hope the chain-link holds.
In the end, every walk is an adventure. Every morning, one more glorious memory with my little buddy. He makes me laugh. He teaches me new things all the time. And, when I’m a real good boy, he kicks some kibble my way.
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