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Walking the dog

It is again warm and bright enough to do dog-walks at 5AM. Harper is glad to go any time of the day, provided there is no rain (she hates it so). Unfortunately it is high season for allergies and I am not very comfortable out of doors. Dogs don’t seem to have allergies. ‘Dog-walk’ is a misnomer. These should be called ‘Dog-sniffs” for the highlight of these outing is stopping at as many bushes and posts as possible to inhale what olfactory delights are present.

Tuesday mornings are especially good for canine peripatetic outings, for it is ‘trash day’: everyone has their rubbish bins out at curbside. This is convenient for discarding waste bags, rather than having to bring them home or locate a local rubbish can. Throughout the neighborhood are ‘doggie stations’ discretely set so man and dog can get black plastic pickup baggies and discard waste. This is to promote good citizenship to pick up after your pooch. From the looks of things, not everybody does this.

Returning home from our walks I report to Someone. Always the scientist, I describe the weather and the conditions of the walk, as well as its timing and pace. Harper’s urinary and bowel functions are presented as if I am conducting a medical conference.

While I do this Harper goes first to her water bowl and then she stands outside the pantry in excited anticipation of a post-walk treat. I wonder if she loves walks so much knowing they end with a treat. She doesn’t like dry bones but proper treats (no rubbish) of ersatz pepperoni sticks or bacon. O I’ve been tempted to try one myself, but then I look at the bag and conclude they are all just chemicals and ‘beef products’ – whatever the hell that is.*

Soon it will be hot enough to limit dog walks to the twilight hours lest the sidewalks burn tender paws.  After a hot walk Harper gets a treat and I go into the pool. There is nothing so delicious as a dip after a dog walk.

*Snouts and such. I’ve read “The Jungle”; I know how these things go.

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Walking the dog

Harper has a lot more to sniff these days on our walks. Last week we had a some rain that combined with 20-30C temperature to produce a desert viridity that is seen at no other time. Alas, what came up and out were mostly weeds. You have to admire their cheek. They appear literally overnight and they are everywhere, including in cracks and high places one thinks not possible to support plant life.  Harper is not particularly interested in plants as she is in posts. If dogs have such keen olfactory systems why on earth does she have to bury her snout-deep into bushes and what not? She stands transfixed for a apparently in rapture about whatever scent is there.

The season is turning so our morning walks are now in twilight rather than darkness; long pants and jacket are no longer required (by me, not Harper). This makes for longer walks, which is good. The vet says Harper’s weight is steady, correlated with frequent exercise.  My weight is not so steady, so dog walks are more imperative for Urs Truly than for Princess Pooch.

Saturday dog walks are thwarted by Someone and I first going to Einstein Bagels. You try explaining to an excited dog we are not dressing to go for a walk but to go out for breakfast. I think she understands she is next in line for upon our return she is quite excited, circling the drawer in which is kept the leash and poop-bags. Saturday walks often involve going to the park, where, for a brief time, she can run around off leash. She tends to run around me in wide circles as I slowly tread across the field from one end to the other. A drone looking down on us would think we were a model for a Hydrogen atom.

Alas, it may be better weather for walking but it is allergy season again, especially for tree pollen. My nose is running and the allergy medication does nothing. While I type this through watery eyes and sniffles I see Harper on the bed. She is on her back with four legs up and out, looking like a plastic toy cow tipped over on its side. She is fast asleep. It is a dog’s life.

Walking the dog

Harper, sensing trouble, has kept to her kennel. I daresay she knows we are leaving on a trip and she is going to doggie-day care. Perhaps it is the weather that has made her morose. After a week of continuous sunshine we woke this morning to pouring-down rain. She hates the rain.

This morning we managed to get in a walk before the incessant rain began. Dog walks are usually a peripatetic stop-and-sniff affair, but when it began to sprinkle she picked up the pace and made a bee-line for home. At least we got in a trot prior to going to the pound. Harper went right back to bed which roused Someone from his slumber. Wet dogs do that.

I will miss our daily dog walks when I am in California. I like the evening walks best for they settle my digestion. Harper senses this and becomes excited when we clear the table. Evening strolls are shorter than the the morning ones.  It doesn’t seem to matter; Harper likes walks of any length.  Most of the time I sense she only wants a walk so she can get to the end: a treat.  Harper likes her treats; like the walks, they come in two types. We have beefy-sticks and ersatz bacon strips. Both are eaten with relish.

I think by now Harper has the lay of the neighborhood that if she should become lost she could make it home from memory. Or so I hope. As the days grow longer the walks do as well; I hope to expand our territory this year.

The veterinarian says Harper could stand to loose some weight so longer walks more frequently should help – as would cutting out the treats. I don’t think she will like this but diets are hard.

Anyway it is off to Petsmart for her and Palm Springs for us.  I hope to catch up on blog reads this weekend.

Walking the dog

There is no rest for the wicked not even on Saturday mornings. As I try to sit still with my morning cup of tea Harper is before me, in a mild swivet, restless from pleasures unabated. I know that look: I want to go for a walk. So it is up and at’em and out we go.

Peripatetic Saturday strolls have the advantage the sun is up and morning sunshine stimulates our retinas – or at least mine. Harper is head-down to the ground rather.  I’ve learned dog-walks are not so much continuous trots but what the musicians call rubato. Harper loves to sniff bushes, posts, etc.  We have sudden stops to go nose-down over some amazing olfactory find. Occasionally she responds by leaving her calling card.  Harper can be quite butch viz. at posts she lifts leg like a boy dog. Them that squats to pee – there is no judging them.

Most of the neighbors use inflatable plastic christmas decorations that lie like melted puddles during the day time. The morning light shows these hot-air items are nestled among the cacti and prickly pears. I would think this makes for easy and frequent punctures. Other types of decorations would be more practical, say made of concrete. These would also be good for dogs to pee upon.

Speaking of yard trimmings I see less manger scenes made from mannequins. I suppose this is because The Baby Jesus is often stolen and changeling-like something put in His place. This ersatz white-elephant present swap is considering not at all funny.*

Harper of course is oblivious to all these Christmas creches, other than to smell if another dog has peed in the straw. I think she becomes upset to sense another  pooch has been there already in adoration of The Baby Jesus.  It gives new meaning to the proverbial Dog in the Manger.

 

*At least not by the homeowner. Mickey Mouse, Pokeman, or Chuckie the Horror Doll in lieu of The Christ Child evokes hilarity and mirth even when one tries to suppress such.

Walking the dog

Last night I slept alone but woke to company. Harper was over me, looking down, in agitated anticipation on a decision most vital: are we to walk?  Aye, we were.  It was up and out for the morning ablution of exercise.

It is that time of year when dog walks start and end in darkness. It will be that way until March. The Helliconian heat of Arizona has finally broke and I need to wear a jacket now (although shorts remain possible for another month).

Dog walks in the dark have some dangers. It is harder to see others coming towards us. That may not be an approaching dog but a coyote or (worse) a javelina.  Harper is discrete where she poops, preferring to do so in total darkness. This makes tidy-up a bit of a challenge.  The most hazardous matter is the paper man. At 5AM he drives like a demon with no regards to stop signs or driving on the proper side of the street. On more than one occasion I’ve been nearly run over. This has burned my bacon to the point of calling the newspaper to remonstrate about his recklessness, but I worry he may retaliate. Mostly I hold back as it makes me feel like one of those old men who write letters to the editor complaining about kids on his lawn.

This morning I weigh 78.5 kg. I don’t know how much Harper weighs. Both of us could stand to lose some fat around our middles. We are going for the ‘every day x 30 days’ goal of dog-walks. Exceptions: if I am sick or run over by the paper man.

Walking the dog

I woke this morning to a sudden swat of a paw across my face. I was in the beginning of a seduction dream (nice) with a patient of mine (creepy). I won’t ever know if I was to succumb to such a lurid taboo as the paw-swat woke me right up. I opened one eye to find Harper over me looking worried-excited, as if it was last call to board a plane. I know that look: time to get up and go for a walk-walk-walk. I put on my trousers, Harper did her pandiculations, and off we go.

After seven years more or less doing the routes you would think it would lose some luster, but we leave home like a greyhound out of the gate. She can’t wait to get to the bushes for her sniffs. Do they elicit euphoria? Do they tell her the neighborhood news?  Whatever the reasons she loves to nose about the shrubberies.

It is getting cooler; our peripatetic morning ritual becomes more pleasant – and more in the dark. Harper doesn’t mind the dark. The one thing she does mind is water. Princess Pooch will walk a wide arc around running water or a puddle so as not to get her paws wet.

Don’t tell Someone but we are getting sloppy in our steps. We should be stopping at every corner for her to sit before crossing the street. In my desire to keep going we plow forward. I need to reverse this lest he join us some morning and be aghast how slattern are our habits.

After the walk, Harper wants a treat. We think she’s gained some unnecessary weight so the doggie-meaty-yummie-stix have been halved. Usually she takes it and runs off to eat it in the living room. Now she swallows the tidbit in a gulp and sits there looking for more. I daresay she sulks some when no more is forthcoming.

Ah well.  The disappointment sure hasn’t put a dent in her enthusiasm for morning walks.

Harper 11.jpg

Walking the dog

Harper doesn’t seem worse for the wear for having been cooped up in a kennel for a week. She is always glad to go home. We have returned to our (near) daily dog walks. My brain is still on Atlantic Time; I wake a 4AM bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Harper is keen to go on walks at any time of the day, so off we go.
August in Phoenix is the worse month for it is both hot and humid; our morning walks are not very comfortable nor are they long. Harper sometimes calls it quits by making sudden U-turns and back home we go. Some mornings I barely have time to hear The Writer’s Almanac on podcast.
At the conclusion of dog-walks Harper wants – nay demands – a treat. Doggie treats fall into two categories: the snack-food equivalent of nasty chips or healthy tidbits designed for her teeth. After morning strolls I give the latter, called dental-stix. These are not refused but not as coveted as the pup-er-oni rods. Go figure.

Someone rarely comes along on our matutinal strolls. Harper is always happy for his coming along. As he pauses to lock the front door she jumps up on him to push him along. “Give him the boots!” I shout at her, as I stand waiting at the end of the driveway. Someone is more disciplined than I at making her pause and sit at every street crossing.

I am looking forward to cooler days when we can stroll longer and faster without the sense of wanting to get back home into the AC.

Walking the dog

This is the time of year when morning dog walks are more regular and happen earlier. The sun rises at five AM and the sidewalk soon heats up to the point of it is too hot for dog-paws.  Harper, sensing the routine, is often up before the alarm goes off – snout in my face with ‘that look’ of anticipation that is not quite certain. If she senses a ‘yes’ she becomes instantly active as a child on Christmas morning.

Even at 5AM it is rawther hot and a brisk long walk isn’t too much fun. She is more likely than not to make a sudden early U-turn as if to say ‘I didn’t want to do this anyway’.

The evening walk is more capricious than the matutinal. Even after sunset it’s in the 90s and no fun for dogs. The morning stroll can be peripatetic but not so the night stroll. These last ~ 5-10 minutes; they are mostly around the block to catch up on the latest sniffs and bushes.  Still, she likes the notion of going even if once outside she realizes it’s too hot.

On these sweltering summer strolls I used to go a-walking sans shirt, but I am now too vain to do so. The young men who walk or jog bare chested are chiseled Adonis and they know it. Next to them I feel old, ugly, and a bit creepy. So I keep my shirt on thank you very much.

There is a new development to the north which is just opening up so Harper will have something new to explore. It also gives me the excuse to go snooping as to what’s there and are there any handsome hombres outside sans shirt. However it is too hot for anyone to be out of doors. Nobody out but the occasional other dog walker and his or her pooch.

Now I must adjourn. Harper is at my side, tapping her last year’s Pradas for me be done and get going. Last I checked it was 93F. I sense this will be a short one.

Walking the dog

When we first moved into the area to the north of our house was desert. In the past year this wasteland was plowed up and a development was erected. The newly built houses are mammoth, bulbous beige monstrosities of a uniform ugliness although no two are alike. The only positive is there are more streets and trails for Harper to explore on our dog walks.

Our peripatetic strolls are never predetermined. It is good to vary the direction. I do this hoping Harper will get the ‘gist’ of the layout so if she gets lost she can find her way home. The new development to the north needs exploration to sink it into our memories. When everything looks alike it is easy to get lost.

Harper seems to have a favorite route. We turn right when we get to the end of the driveway and then we go left crossing the street and go towards the schoolyard and the adjacent park. Despite its familiarity, she always seems to in a great rush to get there.

The park has the most interesting bushes and pillars for sniffing. If stretched out the olfactory receptors of a human would be the area of a postage stamp; a dog’s would cover an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. So why is it if a dog’s sense of smell is so superior she has to stick her nose directly into things in order to get a whiff?  It’s a mystery, as is why we have to rush around as if we are about to miss the bus?

In the morning after my shower when I go into the walk-in closest to dress Harper now follows me in hopes of a sign for a dog-walk. On her face is a tense excitement looking at me like ‘Yes? Yes? Do I dare hope?”

If I say the magic word ‘walk’ and nod my head she explodes like a piece of machinery that was given one ounce of pressure too much and she goes into a euphoric agitation. I can not dress fast enough in her eyes.

Alas, sometimes I shake my head ‘no’ and she puts on a face the sort seen in ASPCA commercials used to guilt-trip you into giving them money. Then she goes away to brood like Ariadne auf Naxos.

Happily she seems quite satisfied with any length of walk whether it is ten or thirty minutes. A mere quick spin around the block makes her happy. Dogs are easily satisfied; they express such gratitude. No wonder dogs are man’s best friend.

Walking the dog

Most mornings I don’t wake to the sonorous sounds of the alarm clock but to the solicitous whimpers at the side of the bed. Harper wants a walk. This is not always a guarantee; there is a sense of anticipation like a Las Vegas tourist hoping this nickel will ‘pay off’. She usually wins and weekends are a pretty safe bet. There is a sense of ebullience when she realizes I not heading to the shower but to the drawer where we keep the leash and bags. It’s dog walking time. At this time of year dog-walks are quite pleasant; the sun is not quite up and the morning temperatures are in the lower 70s. Short pants and t-shirts are still OK for now.

“Dog-walk” should be re-christened ‘Dog-sniffs’ for Harper is not very interested in going from A to B in a steady clip as The Personal Trainer has suggested we do. She is prefers the stop and sniff style of walking. Being both creatures of habit she prefers the same routes and the same bushes, so I wonder how the scents vary.  She also prefers certain discrete areas – not just anywhere – to do her business. I must remember to bring multiple bags for she has turned into a ‘ two bags’ type of dog. There is no compunction quite like that of your dog having another dump while you stand sheepish -no bag to hand – wondering if anyone is looking for this is not going to be picked up.

In our morning walks we often see the same people doing likewise. There is plump beagle walked by his equally plump owner. The beagle is a whiner and our presence gets it going. More often that not we see an elderly lady out on her matutinal exercise. She is Indian and always in a sari. She walks in the bike trail in the street, never on the side walk. Another regular is a young couple and their two dogs. Someone calls them Ken and Barbie for they are blonde, lithe, and walk at a brisk pace. Their dogs are quite large and Harper doesn’t like them so we avoid them. These yuppies tend to be a bit miffed if we are ‘in their way’.

The best walks are when we have the streets to ourselves. Before nautical twilight we see the winter constellations right overhead.  If we are lucky we encounter Mrs. Oliver, who is the neighborhood great horned owl. We hear her more often than we see her. She flies in complete silence. Her wingspan is majestic. I am very fond of owls. Seeing her heralds a good day, in my opinion. She is worth the effort.

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