I am a people watcher, especially of those with dogs. I am thoroughly in awe of those who have complete control of their four-legged friends when walking through the neighborhood. When out for a drive or walking Jellybean, I take note and ultimately mutter to myself, “Now why can’t we do that?” “It can’t be that hard!” “That dog didn’t even seem to see the squirrel dangling from the tree limb, chattering and waving its bushy tail, seemingly mocking the dog’s inability to climb the tree and chase it.” My mutterings, however, are really my own admission of failure as a dog parent. In other words, my little nineteen pound dog controls the reins, or in this case, the leash, as we take our daily walks through the neighborhood. Now don’t get me wrong, when we are out on visits with our therapy dog group or doing school visits, Jellybean’s manners are impeccable. Naturally I am on high alert during those times, so it would follow that Jellybean would be as well. So….there it is, I suppose I have established a double standard with her. She is one smart cookie and has learned how to work the situation to her advantage.
In case you are having difficulty visualizing our walking routine, here is a detailed description of a typical walk.
Run for a toy. (Mr. Pizza it is!)
Out the door we go.
Stop on the step and sniff.
Sniff to the left and sniff to the right. Rabbits? Squirrels? Deer? Slugs? (“No slugs, Jellybean, remember, they stick to your mouth.”)
Drop Mr. Pizza
Out the sidewalk.
Look to the left, look to the right.
To the right it is.
Take care of some business.
Three steps and sniff. Don’t forget to leave your calling card, so the next pup knows you’ve already been here.
Four steps. Stop and point. (Yes, my little Shichon points!) “It’s just a squirrel, Jellybean. Let it be.”
Two steps and sniff.
Leave another calling card.
Freeze. Rabbits ahead!
Oh, yum, rabbit delights! (I have written about these wonderful tidbits of Vitamin D in a previous blog.)
Four steps and plop. “Really, Jellybean? We didn’t even walk that far. I can still see the house.”
“Stop that! What are you rolling in?”
Ten steps and squirrel! Literally, another squirrel.
“Oh look, Jellybean, here comes Josie, oh and Kramer and Oakley too! Oh wait, there’s Haley and DJ! Oh my goodness, is that Lola and Rasha coming down the street? I wonder if Lucy is coming out?”
Sniff and wag. It’s a dog pawty!
Pawty is over and we are off and running, well, maybe more like dawdling.
It’s time to take care of some more business.
Oh great, bird droppings. “Really, Jellybean?”
Bird droppings are long forgotten as now there is a stick straight ahead.
Off we go! “Yes, Jellybean, you can take the stick home with you. We can add it to your collection.”
And so it goes. Somehow, even with all the stops, distractions, and greetings, we manage to take a walk of about 2000 steps to start our morning.
Back in the driveway, she spots Mr. Pizza right where she dropped him on the brick path. Once again I am holding on for dear life as she makes a sprint for her current toy of choice. Oh, but now we have a predicament. What to do, what to do, the stick or Mr. Pizza? At this point I take charge (finally). “Ok Jellybean, how about if I take the stick and put it in the crock and you take care of Mr. Pizza?” This amazing little pup, that I swear understands English, looks at me with those big, bright eyes. She ponders her choices for a moment, drops the stick and pounces on Mr. Pizza.
I’m sure you would agree that I won’t be winning any awards for walking my dog anytime soon. But, because she does so well when we are out and about I let it go. Does it really matter? Yes, we get some looks once in a while as we go down the hill toward the park full speed chasing after a rabbit, with me doing my best to hang on. Does she take care of business while we are out? Yes she does! Does she get fresh air and exercise every day? Yes she does! Does she get to socialize with her furry friends? Yes she does! Is there a bowl of cool, fresh water waiting for her when we arrive at home? Yes it is! Well alrighty then!
Beverly Stiffler Smith
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