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Spo-fans and various relations are sending words my way, worried about the heat here in Arizona. It is rawther hot here with lows in the mid-30s and highs in the mid-40s. * This is not new; it happens every year, although admittedly not so early. Normally these ardent temperatures start in early July. Global warming I suppose, although right wing know-it-alls will deny it so. Meanwhile the water supply is drying up and no one is listening to the Cassandras.

Regardless, it is bloody hot and no good for dog walks. In these ardent months, Harper and I must go out about 5AM, before The Sunbane commences.** Mid-day walks are right out until October – too hot for paws! – and our evening walks are delayed until after sunset. Even then it remains quite hot and Harper-hound quickly shows signs of not liking this. Panting soon commences and back home we go – just a quick walk to the post-box and back.

We’ve stayed our distance from other walkers for over a year, and I think Harper has grown wary of being near other dogs. . Perhaps in her dotage she is not interested in other dogs anymore. She remains very interested in sniffs. She still has her favorites, which she inhales like a scotch expert inspecting a rare single-malt whisky.

Someone is looking for some extra exercise this season, so he sometimes joins us on our morning strolls. Fascinating! Harper loses complete interest in me when she senses he will be walking with us. He can’t stray behind or worse, decide to branch off to fetch the mail or go home prematurely. Harper won’t have this, but goes after him. It is rather sweet; it seems to uphold my theory in her eyes I am not the other owner, but The Other Dog.

The HOA, in their infinite wisdom, put down new stones along the gulley designed for flood water. These red pebble-sized rocks are just the right size and shape to cause Harper pain when she walks on them. At one point on her favorite trail she has no choice but to step onto them. She does slowly, looking pained, until she is again on the sidewalk. Ouch indeed.

Dog walks now end with me taking Harper off the leash on the driveway while I go around the back to discard the waste-bags and turn on/off the sprinkling system. She doesn’t go with me, but waits impatiently at the start of the walkway that leads up to the front door, stomping her little last season Pradas shoes at me, wanting in for the obligatory post-walk treat. After receiving it, she runs off and eats this out of sight – usually in the bedroom on the bed and on my side. There goes dignity. She is a happy dog this way, so I don’t push her off.

When you love them, they drive you crazy, because they know they can.

*Celsius. I am at heart a scientist. Thems with complaints wanting Fahrenheit may email The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. Be advised they don’t check their email right away. Sometimes not for months.

**Does anyone know of the literary reference? I would be wowed to know.

Spring has sprung The Valley of the Sun and all mesquite trees are all in bloom with fluorescent yellow flowers. It’s a pretty sight, but the pollen is wracking ruin on my breathing. Apparently dogs are not so effected as Harper sniffs as much as ever. A dog’s ability to smell is a marvel. When I can’t smell it is a nuisance, but if a dog should become unable smell it must be like blindness.

The HOA (or somebody like them) recently dumped a fresh layer of small red rocks ’round the ravine where we go for our walks. The place looks better but the new stones are sharper than the last lot and they hurt Harper’s paws. When she goes off the sidewalk to sniff or pee she has a pained Jack Benny expression on her face. Every time a puppy takes a poop, the owners pick up a few rocks with it. Over time the rocks deplete and new ones are brought in.

More on this topic: the neighborhood app has as its latest outrage complaints about dog owners placing the poop bags into their garbage pails. Normally one uses the rubbish containers along the walkways or wait until you get home. On Tuesdays all the rubbish bins are out by the curb and dog walkers use them to discard their droppings. Apparently the complaints apply even to the garbage pails about to be picked up by the sanitation trucks that morning. I guess there is some law about the disposal of one’s rubbish into other people’s receptacles, however a small black bag placed discretely in nearby barrel that is about to be picked up by the truck, only an hour later, seems a bit harsh. The neighborhood app is up in arms on both sides of the debate.

Harper and I, we don’t care. She’s learned with sad looks and body language she can easily steer me wither she wills it. Lately she’s zeroed-in on a specific path, apparently choosing this familiar path to repeat rather than roads not taken. I wonder if this is an age matter. As I grow old beside her, I tend to choose likewise.

It’s getting warm here, hot enough to not go out at noon time, for the mid-day son on the sidewalk burns sensitive old-dog paw pads. I’ve thought again to buy her some booties, but I sense she would not like to where them. So our dog walks drop from three in a day toward two for the season, going out before and after sunset to avoid scalding. I make up in quality for the cutback in quantity. Perhaps after many years of this seasonal cycle she remembers and takes it in stride.

I haven’t done one of these in a while. There hasn’t been much of interest happening on our daily strolls. When I work from home, Harper gets three walks: one in the morning before work; one at lunch time; one when work ends at five. She senses time that she becomes a bit excited/needy about 1130AM and 430PM – sometimes sooner. The noon walk is a quick five minute walk around the block and the evening walk is to the mailbox, but the morning walk is ‘dealer’s choice”. Spring has sprung here in The Valley of the Sun which makes for better light and warmer temperatures that encourage longer and more off-the-trail walks. There are three goals on these strolls, which I call ‘the three Es’:

Exercise

Elimination

Examination

The third E seems to be more important than the other two, at least for Harper. It is fascinating how she sniffs every bush and post like a shopper rummaging through the sale bins at a department store looking for bargains. Maybe it’s like a drug. To take a deep whiff at the base of a stained lamppost makes her face become so intense. Sometimes she goes back and forth between two places detective-like trying to deduce the scene. It makes me wonder if smelling things for a dog is the equivalent of human’s need for touch and socializing. 

While she has her nose in the bushes, my nose is in other people’s business viz. I am looking about the neighborhood for signs of shenanigans. Several houses have some sort of construction going on. The street next door has many houses flying the flag on a continuous basis.  I wonder what they went up for in the first place. I also wonder if they are now afraid to take them down, lest they be the first ones to do so, and have all the neighborhood see their missing flag and judge them. We have a flag (a housewarming gift from Father I remember) but have never flown it, not having gotten around to erecting the stand for which it stands. 

Speaking of putting ones nose in other people’s business, Someone tells me on the neighborhood app there are complaints towards negligent dog-walkers who do not pick up after their pooches. I think this a reasonable remonstrance. However there are peeves about pooches peeing on their lawns as well.  Since all lawns are gravel stone (no grass is allowed) this sounds like an old-man rant ALA you-kids-get-off-my-lawn.  Harper always goes just where the lawn and sidewalk meet; no one has come out to shout at us. 

I am curious to know which houses these boisterous bulletins emanate from and if there is any correlation to the houses flying the flag or had TRUMP signs up last November.  However sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than enter into the mentioned app to do the work necessary to connect-the-dots.  For us it is not matter. I always pick up after her. As for where she squats I am not worried. 

   

This is the time of year when dog-walks are least liked – at least by me. Harper does not seem to mind; she would walk anytime provided it is not raining. The morning walks, at 5AM, in January, are done in the dark in near freezing temperatures. The minimal walk is around the block at total of five minutes. I don’t have a winter jacket anymore, so I put on several layers of whatever is at hand. At this hour the winter constellations are sinking in the west, with Castor and Pollux are at the top of an arch of descending stars. Overhead in the predawn sky is Leo, king of the spring constellations, heralding the arrival of warmer months. Until then, I bundle up and get in and out as quickly as I can.

Speaking of things overhead, this morning we heard Mrs. Oliver, the great horned owl. She likes to sit on top of the streetlight athwart to home. From this viewpoint she can see us but we cannot see her. It makes me feel glad to hear her. Funny how we use the term ‘night owl’ to describe someone who stays up late and sleeps in late when we three are early risers.

When I work from home Harper gets in three walks in that day, the lucky dog: one in the morning; one at lunch time; and another one after work at 5PM. In the third walk we fetch the mail. She’s gotten used to these times she can guess when they are coming and she gets excited about 1130AM and at 430PM. Telling an excited dog to wait is like King Cnut holding back the tide. On occasion in zoom appointments the patient and I are talking and there is a sudden woof of impatience. “Do you have a dog there?” I am asked.

Someone seldom goes on dog-walks but when he does Harper’s euphoria goes even higher than usual. Sometimes he makes a false move to suggest he is joining us when he actually isn’t. This drives Harper to distraction as she expects him to join us. It takes more effort to get her out the door and get her going. It miffs me despite all my dog-walks she prefers Someone, but it makes sense. In her eyes he is the Master and I am The Other Dog.

It is nice to see in her dotage she still springs up in instant pleasure and energy at the mere mention of the ‘W” word, which we never say out loud but spell out slowly lest we cause frustrations.

I hope Harper, Mrs. Oliver, and I have many morning meetings this year.

The morning temperatures are now cool enough to leave the front door open a bit when we go on our morning walks.. It isn’t so cool one yet needs to wear a jacket or put on long pants. The noon day heat has dissipated some that Harper gets an occasional noon time 5 minute walk. She is quite happy to do this; I have never known her to turn down a stroll.

Harper is getting old. She sleeps longer and seems more ‘down’. I am starting to sleep fitfully fearing she will die in the night. She hasn’t lost enthusiasm for dog walks, that’s a relief.  Walks make her as excited as ever and on them she shows no signs of slowing down. I should postpone worrying about her decline until this happens.

On our strolls we see that some of the neighbors have already exchanged the white garage lights for orange ones and they have put up some Halloween trimmings. There are not too many political signs on the lawns – yet. I live in a ‘red state’ and I suspect I am surrounded by Myrmidons of The trump god. There are some T/P signs but not as many as one would think. Could it be they don’t want it known how they are voting? This morning Harper and I went down a street where every other house had such signs up. To my amazement they were all ‘Biden’ signs. I give them credit for their bravery. I strongly suspect Trumpsters not only will do damage to the signs but to the houses as well for daring to display such.

Speaking of scary neighbors Someone regularly reports on the posts he gets from reading some sort of neighborhood social app. These are just as noxious as Twitter feeds or political posts on Facebook.  Besides bitching about politics  the Karen Kratizes of Desert Ridge continually raise a ruckus about critter sightings. From the hysterics one gets the impression the neighborhood is rampant with coyotes and rattlesnakes and people of color all hell-bent on attacking small dogs and the white women. Harper and I never see these sorts when we are walking. Indeed, other than Saturday morning when we walk later we have the whole world to ourselves.  The morning sky before sunrise has the winter constellations shining brightly above us. Mars bright red is sinking in the west while Venus shines high in the east before dawn. It is a good time of the year for dog walks. I hope there are many more years of this.

 

 

Walking the dog

It’s rawther hot this week. The original forecast was for highs of 47C* but it ‘cooled off’ to highs of merely 44C. Harper normally gets two walks a day but not now. It remains well above 40C in the evening and the pavement is too hot for dog feet.  At least for now dog walks are done in the pre-dawn in the chill of 30C. 

The creatures of Arizona are acting likewise; we see a lot of them on our morning strolls. This morning in the middle of the sidewalk was a big fat lizard. At first we thought it was dead but with a touch from the treaders it bolted quick away quick as a quarter note. Later on our peripatetic stroll was again interrupted this time by a long thin snake crossing the sidewalk. I couldn’t identify what sort of snake it was. It didn’t coil and rattle at us – a good sign. It didn’t seem to notice us as it slowly slide across the sidewalk. Harper was uninterested in the lizard but she was not liking the snake. She paused at a distance worthy of covid19 protocol and turned around as if to say walking was canceled. We waited for said serpent to complete its crossing and then we went forward.

Afterwards Harper had the rare ‘two dumps’ on this walk – perhaps she had the proverbial ‘scared sh-tless’ from these encounters.  Good thing I always travel with extra bags.

This is the time of day when folks can exercise without developing instant heat stroke. On our walk Harper and I encountered creatures of the two legged sort but they weren’t as interesting as the reptiles. They whizzed by us as they ran around us oblivious as the snake.**

We are back home and the sun has risen. I have a full day of work while Harper is already asleep on the unmade bed. It’s a dog’s life in the dogs days of summer. 

 

*That’s Fahrenheit for bloody hot. 

**The protocol of greeting fellow morning strollers is not clear. With women I tend not to say anything or even show signs of acknowledgement unless they say hello first. This may be sexist but I don’t want to be seen as a perv.  Men walking dogs look less up to no good especially if I am talking silly to the dog for the approaching female to hear I am a dope and no threat.  I tend to say good morning to the menfolk and thems in groups as I am considered no threat.

Walking the dog

It is that time of year again when dog-walks need to be coordinated with the temperature. Normally we for a stroll after supper to stay our stomachs but at 6PM is still 40C (104F). The sidewalk must first cool down lest it burn her paws. One can buy pooch-booties (with cha-cha heels to match for the dog-walker) but the ardent heat wouldn’t make for much fun.  Try explaining this to a dog who expects a walk as soon as the dinner plates are cleared away.  The morning walks are similar viz. we get out now before the sun rises and things heat up. It is ‘rattlesnake season’ and one must be mindful. I encountered one once; I think I jumped 5ft in the air when I heard its rattle coming from underneath the bush.  Harper loves to inspect bushes so we must be wary. 

Perhaps due to covid19 it seems more folks (and dogs) are out on walks these days. Some folks wear masks but most don’t on the notion walking outside isn’t too contagious.  Social distancing goes without saying when walking the dog as you don’t want the dogs to get too close lest there is a fight or some other embarrassing interaction. 

Can I boast Harper is a very good dog on our walks? When an opposing set of man and beast approaches Harper tends to hang back a bit and keep mum. The approaching party often has dog(s) that break out into a cacophonous yapping and pull on their leashes with the owner showing no ability to restrain the brazen pooch(es).  “Good girl !” I say to Harper as we pass in silent dignity. “You are an obedient good dog who knows how to behave” said loud enough for the other to hear which is my passive-aggressive way of saying your curs are out of control little bitches and you are a failure as a dog owner. We are mostly ignored but on occasion we receive sardonic looks as we pass. Not nice I know. 

We don’t walk too far as she becomes easily overheated so it’s back to La Casa de Spo toot suite (that means quickly) to get hydrated and a dip in the cement pond to refreshen ourselves – at least for me. Harper sooner would eat rats at Tewkesbury than go into water. She is content to get an after-walk treat and cool off lying on the bed with four legs spread out in all directions. 

I think it is has cooled enough now to get up and go out. 

Wish us luck there are no rattlesnakes or monstrous matrons with feisty little things on long leashes.

Walking the dog

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. While I wouldn’t wish covid19 on anybody* it is providing some surprising benefits. The air is cleaner of one thing and there are a few more hours per day usually consumed for commuting. The gym is closed (worse luck!) but there are more opportunities to take more dog-walks. Harper is loving this. Usually she gets two in a day at the most; nowadays she gets three. She’s connected the dots it’s walk-time after each meal. She waits at the kitchen table to ascertain we do not forget. 

Maybe it’s because everyone is home or perhaps it is times we go a-strolling there are far more people walking their dogs than usual.  Harper is curious about other dogs of course but mostly she concentrates on the poles and shrubs and aromas.  That has not changed. Does this make her an introvert type of pooch?
Another ‘perk’ of covid19-based dog-walks: Someone sometimes goes with us. This delights Harper to no end. She  has a curious ritual of making sure he goes out the door and down the driveway to the common sidewalk ahead of her. If he should linger she goes back and nudges him from behind. “Give him the boots!” I call to her meaning put up your paws and get him going. 

Harper is on better behavior when Someone joins us on our jaunts. It feels like when taking the kids to visit the grandparents and as you pull into their driveway reminding them not to talk about you-know-what. When he’s with us she remembers to sit prior to crossing the street.  On our own we two are more sloppy. Clever dog! She’s like a child who knows what she can get away with with each parent. 

The supermarket ran out of her usual dog food so we had to buy something new. Harper’s droppings have taken a turn and not to the better making tidy-up more challenging.  Someone takes this as no surprise; this supports his long-time belief never change a dog’s food.  

I know Harper appreciates this up-tick in dog-walks as I do. Without these strolls I would get no exercise. She is always up for my excuse to get out of the house as a remedy for my restlessness. We make a good couple this way, man and dog, each helping the other in happiness and general well-being. 

 

 

*I confess this isn’t entirely true. There are certain subject if they should drop I’d smile a little if they did. 

Walking the dog

Spring has arrived in The Valley of the Sun. It is now warm enough to go out for a stroll in short pants and T-shirt rather than ‘bundling up’ in a sweater. Both the morning and the evening walks have some sunshine again which opens up the trails we abjure in the dark lest there are javelinas and riffraff.  As a consequence Harper is revisiting haunts and sites she hasn’t seen since October. This makes her very excited. Today we got to Cashman Park in which she can romp sans lease (that means without). Technically this is a no-no but we are discreet; we only do so when it is early and the coast is clear. Harper doesn’t get to run much and this is her first opportunity. She didn’t bolt like last time; I sense her age. All the same she doesn’t lack enthusiasm to sniff the old sniffs and piddle in the favorite areas.

Throughout the neighborhood there are ‘doggie stations’ consisting of a receptacle and a box with a hole in front like that of a birdhouse. From it one pulls black plastic bags used to pick up after ones pooch.  I’ve noticed these stations have been empty lately. Could it be people are hoarding the bags like Costco toilet paper?  I’ve needed to bring brown plastic grocery bags on our walks.  Since I am on the topic of poop last week we were obliged to change Harper’s dog food as it is no longer made or sold at Alberton’s.  I am on the look out to see if this has upset Harper’s digestion. So far things look OK. Indeed she seems to like the new stuff better which she eats with relish.

Spring in Phoenix lasts until early May when the ardent heat turns all greenery to brown. For now Harper has a lot of verdant fragrant sniffs to enjoy when she isn’t inspecting the poles. There is a small shrubby weed that grows rampant at this time of year. Her face isn’t one of euphoria but careful consideration as if holding an inspection if this year’s crop is coming up satisfactory.  How extraordinary the world of canine olfactory sensations must be!  What I smell isn’t particularly intoxicating and Someone is already having his seasonal allergies.

Regardless of the season’s style of walks they all end with the obligatory post-walk treat. Harper has grown snippety she doesn’t like dry bones anymore. Perhaps they are hard on her teeth. She likes ‘meat sticks’, small cylinders of beef right out of “The Jungle”.  Her other favorite snack is ersatz bacon strips which (I confess) smells just like the real stuff.

As I write this H is on the bed looking content from her walk and Pupperoni treat. It’s a dog’s life.  Walking will be good until the summer blaze thwarts things.

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Spo-fans want Harper photos and Urs Truly has listened. Here’s a typical dog-walk done via photos.  This entry is dedicated to Blobby and Shep. 

 

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Harper waiting impatiently for me to finish my paperwork for our morning walk. 

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The anticipation is high; tails are a-wagging to get going. 

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Which way to go today? 

 

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Harper is not one to heel. She pulls me town the lane. Goodness knows why we are always in such a rush.  

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Engrossed in a good sniff.

Sometimes I have to pull her away or we will be here all morning.  

 

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Harper can be quite butch; sometimes she lifts leg rather than squat. 

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Home. After all there is no place like it. 

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All walks end with a treat. It’s the law.

Perhaps this and not the walk itself is the source of her excitement. 

 

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