Monday, September 12, 2011

Walking the Dogs

Cast of Characters

Daisy - Part terrier, part opossum
Selective hearing when being called

Annabelle - Part shitzu, part floor mop
Buries nose into whatever she smells

Conner - Apprentice Dog-Walker

Noah - Convinced he can do anything Conner can do

Timing the dog walks used to be hit and miss with more  mess than hit.  But in retirement I have been able, through my excellent and now underutilized management experience, to implement an efficient schedule. 

Short walks consist of letting them loose in the back yard and monitoring them.  But long walks require that they be on leashes despite the fact that they are no threat -- cats and even large birds ignore them as harmless.  But we live in one of those "Yard of the Month" (which we have never won) subdivisions where dog poop needs to be collected in little blue plastic bags and sent to the landfill where they will last for centuries until some future archeologists find them and wonder what kind of strange theology we had that included the preservation of canine excrement for the afterlife.

Long walks used to be easy and almost refreshing except for the fact that Daisy is always pulling forward and Annabelle is always dragging backward with her nose fastened firmly to the ground.   Long walks were even fairly good after Conner reached the age where he became determine to accompany me.

Conner is excellent about watching out for cars and when he sees one will always pull Annabelle to the side of the road and stop until the car has passed.  This works well except for yesterday when one of our neighbors came out, started her car in the driveway, then decided she had forgotten something and went back inside her house.  Despite all my explanations, urgings, rantings, and ravings, he refused to pass her driveway until she finally came out and drove away.  

But now Noah is old enough to be convinced he needs to do whatever his older brother does.  And sometimes I need to walk the dogs and it is the wrong time for the children.

This morning, for instance, the sun was just coming up and the kids had awakened earlier than usual and I had awakened later than usual.  The kids weren't dressed yet and the dogs HAD to go.  Time for stealth.

Conner and Noah seemed to be engaged with cereal and television so I slipped out of the livingroom and quietly gathered the leashes.  Instead of calling out, as usual, "Annabelle!! Daisy!! Walk-time!!," I tiptoed to each dog and whispered in their ears, "Come on.  Let's walk."   I tried to slip out the front door instead of the back so I wouldn't be in sight of the livingroom but Conner heard the click of the latch and came running.   It breaks his heart if he knows I've gone without him, so I figure, what the heck.  So what if the neighbors see him in his underwear. 

Then Noah shows up running in his little waddling way, arms out waving to keep his balance, sort of like a tiny drunk man except for the diaper.   Expecting to be left, he is already working toward a cry. 

Change of plans.  Instead of the leash, I'll take them all to the backyard.  For a brief moment, I almost believe I am going to be able to control the situation.  I was, after all, a professional manager -- although, in retrospect, I didn't control adults very well either.

Once off the porch, it's like some imaginary quarterback yelled "Hut" and they all take off in different directions.  Daisy and Annabelle run to left hoping to score some squirrels in our neighbors backyard.  Conner grabs his orange ball and kicks it toward the pond where it will float away.  Noah waddle-runs in the opposite direction but also toward the pond.

I cry out, "Annabelle!! Daisy!!  Come back!!"   But I still have my priorities straight  and give up on the ball which plops into the water and begins floating away to the left.  I ignore it and run toward Noah who thinks it is a game and runs faster toward the pond on the right.   Unlike the orange ball, I know that Noah doesn't float. 

Conner yells, "Ball!  Ball!" 

I yell, "Annabelle!!  Daisy!!  Conner!!"  My legs kick into high gear as I admit sadly that, at 65 years old, I am in danger of being outrun by a toddler.  I grab Noah, pick him up and head back in case Conner is trying to save his ball. 

Fortunately, he has already forgotten the ball.  Unfortunately, he has decided it is his responsibility to get the dogs back.  He is running across the neighbor's yard toward the dogs who are now three yards away.   He is yelling, "Gogs!! Gogs!!  Gogs!!"

I'm chasing him although it is clear that, at 65 years old while carrying a one-year-old, I have no chance of outrunning a two-year-old.   I am screaming, "Conner!!  Annabelle!! Daisy!!  Karen!!  Brian!!  Melody!!"   I'm pretty sure Karen is in the shower and Brian and Melody are still asleep, but I'm looking for reinforcements desperately.  

In the distance I see Daisy squatting in September's Yard of the Month but I'm not going back for a blue bag any more than I'm diving into the pond for the orange ball. 

A stroke of luck!  Daisy, with selective hearing, ignores me but Annabelle actually turns and starts running back toward Conner who is still yelling, "Gogs!! Gogs!!"  

Annabelle reaches Conner at the same time I do, jumps up and knocks him over.  Still holding Noah with one arm, I grab Annabelle with the other.  And breathing a sigh of relief, I see Daisy on her way back to see what the fun is all about.   We head back to the house and are almost at the porch when Daisy realizes my intention to get everyone back in the house.  This time she runs to the right. 

I become philosophical.  (Becoming philosophical was also the strategy I used in my former job when management strategies failed).  In a much calmer voice, I say, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."   I flip Annabelle up on the porch in time to grab Conner's arm before he takes off after Daisy.  I pull him onto the porch, still carrying Noah.  Shut the door and herd them all into the house. 

Karen is standing there, drying her hair.  Her first words, of course, are, "Where's Daisy?"

"Fertilizing the neighborhood," I answer, putting Noah down and heading for a cup of coffee.  I know that Daisy will return in fifteen minutes or less but at this point, I'm not sure I care.


  1. Oh, I'm sorry. I laughed. A lot.

  2. Oh my gosh! Ha ha ha!! Good thing you have all of that management experience or this could somehow be even crazier!

    They make leashes for little kids, don't they? That way you can take the whole crew at once, like the Dog Whisperer.

  3. See, every time I think about getting a dog I run across stories like this one. And this story would have been effective birth control too if I hadn't already been firm on that score (& already 47 years old to boot).

  4. I loved this one--loved the back and forth. I can picture it set to "keystone cops" music. Those kids are lucky to have such a funny grandpa.

  5. Oh yeah. Sounds a lot like my house when I would take all 4 dogs out at the same time. Instead of a pond, I had the road to contend with. Exhausting!

  6. well, if once the blue baggie has done its job of getting the dog poop out of the public domain, there's no actual rule that says you can't empty the baggie out later someplace appropriate. It's a matter of effort. Of willpower. You could - if you're willing to go far enough, and I admit this is Too Far for anybody I know except for certain particularly hard-core Fruit & Nut types in my own home state of California - refuse the landfill perpetual preservation option.

  7. Thanks for giving me vicarious exercise. Now I can rest.

  8. So... was there any audience at all to appreciate the spectacular morning show? :-)

  9. What a fun run! I know exactly what you mean having gone through similar incidents, both as a mother and now a grandmother. You are the perfect manager...cut your losses and go for that double shot of espresso to get you through the rest of the day.

  10. Great site you've got here.. It's difficult to find excellent writing like yours these days.

    I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    Also visit my page: best cellulite treatment