Friday, May 13, 2011

Onto Something . . .

Calin here. Today I made a discovery. I'm sure that the warmth and general gorgeousness of the first greater-than-60-degree-day-of-2011 (it's close enough to be true so I'm not going to fact check) added to my stroke of genius, because I had to pick up some pills from the vet for Spackle this afternoon, and I really wanted to walk up there to do it. An aside—a breeze has come up outside and a resulting ghost has flown down the chimney and slithered across my bare feet and ankles. Yes, this house is so efficient. Back to my story—I've just now used the line drawing tool on google maps to determine how far I walked—turns out a healthy 4.33 miles! This is after about an hour of riding on Otto, the Giant String Puppet, where I think, judging from the lathers of sweat, I worked us both pretty hard. I seem to have recovered from whatever malaise I was suffering last week and the week before (note: it might not simply be old age, or cancer—I might have just had a bug or something. More musings on the difficult issues of aging coming soon on ITIW.)

Anyway, I wanted to take a walk unfettered, but the dogs needed exercise. It's the endless internal struggle, because Spackle really doesn't want to take fast walks on pavement these days—he finds it boring to the max, and his knees pain him. Hoover will tear off 15 feet ahead, yanking my left arm forward, and Spackle will poke along 26 feet behind me (their expando leashes are different lengths), yanking (as the equal but opposite reaction to Hoover's yank) my right arm back. I Walk Like an Egyptian up and down the streets of Wallingford. Ian and I have known for a long time—three years, in fact, since deciding (mostly erroneously, although we have come to love Hoover very much) that Spackle would like a friend and the household could use another dog—that eventually we would be doing separate walks. The age and structural soundness differences were just too great.

Okay, I thought to myself as I whipped back across the lake after my ride, maybe now is the time to start the separate walks. I dithered a bit on how I was going to do this—How hurt or distressed was Spackle, essentially my first born child, going to feel to be left behind while I took the grudgingly tolerated younger brother out for a solo walk? Would he squeak? Would he yelp? Would it be better for him to be inside where I wouldn't be able to hear his disappointment, or out, where he could at least still be in the nice weather?

In the event, the cleaners had come late and were still around and so Spackle had to be left out. I changed out of riding gear, filled a pocket with bits of treats to work on training out of Hoover the still quite impressive apeshitting, took two more cookies for right then, and went out to confront the dogs.

"Spackle," I said, as I came onto the porch, "you are going to stay here and hold down the fort while I take Hoover on a long walk to run an errand." Spackle sat calmly, looking me in the eye as I talked. "When I get home, I'll clean the shits out of the backyard and you can have some fetching. Okay? Good dog. Hold down the fort."

I handed him his cookie and reached for Hoover's leash. Spackle stepped aside, making absolutely no move to come with us. It's about bloody time Lady, he seemed to be saying as I left him, satisfied and in charge, lounging on the monkey bed by the back gate, in the first sunlight of spring.

That last sentence would be a perfect, writerly place to end, but I want to go on to say that the walk with Hoover alone was a great pleasure for me because I am a fast walker and so is Hoover, if given his druthers. Also, I was able to forestall more of the apeshitting than usual because I only had the one focus. The public areas of the vet were blessedly other-dog-free, and so Hoover was able to sniff to his heart's content without losing his mind and thus necessitating me lying full-out on top of him in the middle of the waiting room while the pills were brought out.

Spackle, satisfied with the knowledge of a job well done as far as home guarding went, was also quite happy to fetch and fetch and fetch, back and forth in our yard. The yard is too small for him to be able to run fast enough to really hurt himself, and also the perfect size for me to throw a tennis ball as hard as I can and almost reach the far fence, thus using the space efficiently (throwing does not number amongst my athletic prowesses). Neither dog dogged me about dinner, and when Ian arrived home 30 minutes or so after they ate, Hoover was so worn out he couldn't even be bothered to thump his tail in welcome, let alone get up and greet his father (to be perfectly fair, neither could I).

In all, this bodes well for a long and happy summer. Well, a happy summer, at any rate.

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