Walking My Human Is An Adventure

small dog with tongue out
I’m ready to walk! All photos by Mom (Marty Schafer)

I love the adventure of walking, but getting my human mom to go can be tough some days. (My human dad refuses, but he plays and feeds me people food, so I let him be.)

First of all, Mom doesn’t like getting up in the mornings. So unless I really have to pee, I let her sleep until the sun is up. Even then, she can’t seem to do anything until she has some coffee. And getting her to look away from that phone thing? Let’s just say, I can get in two to three naps before she’s ready some days.

During the summer, she throws on clothes and we go out before it gets too hot. When it’s cold out, she likes to take a shower and then go. If it’s cold enough for ice on mud puddles, she makes me wear a jacket. I hate that! It makes my skin crawl and I’m constantly trying to shake it off. At least I broke her of making me wear sweaters when I was a pup.

What is it with humans and falling water, anyway? A nice clean rain, and she bundles up to stay dry. Worse, when we get back, she wipes me down with a towel and insists on wiping my paws. Hey, I’ll clean them myself and do a better job, too! Yet, humans think nothing of taking off their clothes and spending lots of time under what they call a shower. As if getting wet isn’t enough, they put on and then wash off all kinds of smelly stuff. Crazy, no? I’ll tell you what’s crazy — when they try to do that to me! But back to walking.

small dog wearing jacket and leash in snow
It’s classy for a dog jacket, but really, Mom, I don’t need it!

I’ve learned over the years that the magic word “walk” doesn’t count unless she grabs the Leash as well. Even then, I have to hurry her up, while she collects keys, phone, glasses and all that other stuff humans require. Really! It’s just a walk.

The Leash is another one of those strange human ways. They want us to get exercise, right? But then they tie us to themselves, making us stay with them. I chewed through many to show my frustration, until she got a chain one. We finally came to an agreement: if she uses the chain Leash, it means I have to be on my best behavior. The retractable Leash is for Fun. That means she lets me get a little further away, and I can take some time sniffing at things. Now that we’ve been in this neighborhood for over a year, she mostly just carries it and lets me do my thing. She can walk at her pace and I can run back and forth at mine. Who says humans can’t be trained?

Granted, I’ll get called back if I stray too far into someone’s yard, or if a car is coming down the street. But it’s much better this way when we encounter loose dogs. I can sniff them up or duck and run, as needed. It also makes reading the doggy newspapers so much easier.

Humans miss so much when they don’t smell other dog’s pee and poop. Who’s been around? How are they feeling? Neighbor, stranger or one of those wild dogs called coyotes? When I’m off leash, I can check all these out and know the state of the neighborhood. There’s only so much that we can communicate by barking at one another, after all.

Speaking of poop, what is with humans and poop? It’s perfectly natural and all animals do it. Yet my humans put theirs in a special water thing that makes it disappear. As if that isn’t weird enough, Mom carries bags and Picks-Mine-Up! But she doesn’t keep it. It goes into those smelly trash dumpsters we all pee on. There’s plenty of other dogs’ poop around, too, but she doesn’t touch that.

I’m twelve years old in human years, but I’m still pretty sociable, as long as you aren’t obnoxious about it. The regulars on our walks start with Bruce, a chihuahua smaller than me and his sister Xena. Before we knew his name, Mom called Bruce “Roo” — something about his jumping at the fence. I don’t care for Xena. She’s big, and when she isn’t tied up in their yard, she runs along the fence and tries to intimidate me, although she is friendly to Mom.

There’s another little tan chihuahua who is sometimes out. He’ll run to greet us, but if one of his humans is also outside, he has to act all big and tough and growl. Poseur. Next door to him is my best friend in the neighborhood, named Rocky.

Rocky is a big, black German Shepherd who comes running out of his yard to meet us if the gate is open. I heard him bark for the first time ever this morning, when he and his German Shepherd neighbor on the other side got into an argument through the fence. It was quite the surprise, I’ll tell you. Rocky’s a downright chatterbox with dogs and people, but I’ve only ever heard him whine and talk like a Malamute. Maybe he is part Malamute; not many of us are purebred around here, including Yours Truly.

woman in hard hat with small dog on leash at construction site
Walking during break time. Those were the days!

Rocky has introduced us to the white spotted dog across the street from him, and the heeler down the block. The white spotted one is about my age, and she doesn’t move real fast. She comes down the steps to greet Rocky, but usually ignores me. I think she’s just set in her ways. The blue heeler down the street seems like an decent guy. He’s missing a front paw, but likes to lick Mom’s hand through the gate and always trades pee with Rocky. At first I thought he was a junkyard dog and stayed back, but he’s alright.

When we turn back towards home, Rocky likes to follow us. I like to dash past our driveway and then look over my shoulder to see if Mom is going to let us walk more, or if I have to go in. If I get close to the corner, she usually agrees to keep going.

Digger lives on the corner, and we share a fence. Usually, he’s tied up in his yard, but his parents have been letting him roam with the gate open lately. Mom got really mad the other day. He was out roaming around during our walk, and then we went to the vet. [shudder] When we got home, there was a chicken hiding in our carport. Mom scared the poor thing, and it ran right by me into the street, where Digger chased and caught it. I could smell that is was hurt when it went by me, and Mom said Digger had taken it from its home. That chicken was as big as me!

There’s another big dog down the street named Billy, and a tiny white chihuahua called Sparkles or some such. Billy’s pretty mellow and stays in his yard. Sparkles is flaky and likely to get run over one of these days from not paying attention.

Sometimes, we’ll go a different route and walk a lot longer, but Mom doesn’t like not knowing what other dogs we may meet. Lots of dogs around here don’t have homes anymore, and others are, well, uncivilized.

It’s not like when I was young and we would walk for miles on a country road where I could chase antelope. (OK, I didn’t really chase them, but she got a kick out of thinking I was, so I’d humor her.) And there were fun times when I went to work with Mom and Dad, and we’d walk on breaks, and the workers would sneak food to me. She even let me go chase prairie dogs on one job. Never caught any of them, either.

dog lying in chair
Mom’s recliner is the best napping spot. (She caught me this afternoon.) Where’d that gray hair come from?

No, we’re both older now, and when the weather is cold and damp, I don’t mind too much if Mom is stiff and doesn’t want to go. I have a little arthritis myself, to be truthful. But as they say, use it or lose it, so I always keep an eye on her in the mornings to see if she’s grabbing the Leash. Sometimes I’ll sit by the door and refuse to go out until she grabs it. (Humans can be so dense!) And if we get to go again in the afternoon? Whoo-hoo!

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