a walk to the park
Today we took the little black grandpuppy to the park where he met a huge rusty golden retriever named Murphy who was trying to rub his way out of his "gentle leader." After a few minutes, he was reunited with his friend Frodo the beagle. Sadly, however, his new girlfriend Bailey the part Chesapeake was a no-show and the two little part-dachshunds who did show up, scared to death of anything canine bigger than a rat, were hardly a consolation prize.
Walking Aiko (the grandpuppy) is a bit of a dance. Bagel, the old dog, walks in a straight line, more or less --- sure, she gets distracted by a telephone pole or a shrub or discarded fast food wrappings. But Aiko's
movements defy any kind of mapping. Sometimes he zig-zags, sometimes he runs in circles, sometimes he wraps the leash around the legs of the lucky person walking him. Skillful switching of the leash-handle from hand to hand can stave this off. It's next to impossible to avoid tangles if you're trying to carry something in one hand, such as a Chai-berg, my favorite summer indulgence.
It's a revelation to me, has been now for over seven years --- but it's a chronically self-renewing revelation that walking a friendly dog makes all the difference. Aiko of course is a revelation in his own right, being a new pup. But I've been walking Bagel over seven years; she's the kind of dog you NEVER worry about when strangers, including the tiniest of children, want to poke stroke and fondle. The only time she's EVER exhibited anything akin to aggression is when a drunk femme-fatale-style blonde woman messed with her ears, which at the time were infected.
Prior to Bagel I had not walked a dog (much) since Mackey, the springer spaniel my parents got me when I turned 10 ("old enough" --- I had only been clamoring for a puppy since I learned to talk). Mackey was a full-blooded pedigreed show dog. He had a temperament that was at best grouchy, at worst hostile to anything that moved. Except me and my mom. No, he didn't like my dad. At all. He was only about half-grown when he first attacked my dad's hand and drew blood. A long series of attacks were to follow: friends, babysitters, grandmothers, you name it.
None of the attacks were severe --- sometimes there was no blood involved, but everyone was scared when it happened --- a dog can have
that sudden totally shocking and surprising way of lunging and suddenly all you feel is teeth.
Mackey could not stand to have anyone mess with his food. That was where he absolutely drew the line. But it wasn't just HIS food, it was whatever food he decided was his. I remember sitting with my parents in our living room, Mackey up on the coffee table slurping up our cottage cheese dip, my parents announcing to me that we were going to get rid of the hateful hound.
Well, I didn't hate him. I did hate worrying about him. When I came home from school and saw my dad's walking stick broken in two outside the back door, I knew, and felt sick to my stomach. Later that day my parents let me know that Mackey had died from his injuries and that we would be getting a kitten.
Having someone new to love does tend to ease the grieving for a lost friend, even though no dog or cat can be replaced, no new critter can fill the paw prints of the lamented departed one. I have fond memories of my childhood cat, Dutiful Penitence, but though I have some downright awful memories of Mackey, I dream about him at least twice a year.
In the dreams he either never died or he's back from the dead, and he's running and bouncing, chasing balls and sticks, slurping my face with
his long doggy tongue, doing everything but the bad stuff he used to do.
Bagel is a far cry from Mackey in the looks department. Well, Rae called Bagel, in a poem, "No longer cute / a marble cake with teeth." But I don't look at springer spaniels the way I used to. I don't look at any pure bred
show dog the same way, because I'm always wondering what was sacrificed to a) breed such dogs, and b) teach such dogs to obey.
Are dogs works of art to be admired, or are they delightful frolicking furry friends? I realize they can be both. Mackey wasn't. Aiko is. Bagel has the furry friend part nailed.
I hope you bloggers out there have plenty of encounters with four-footed intelligent life on a regular basis. It's better than poetry sometimes.