April 30, 2019

“I think a man only needs one thing in life. He just needs someone to love. If you can’t give him that, then give him something to hope for. And if you can’t give him that, just give him something to do.”

  • The Flight of the Phoenix, 2004 Movie

 

We’re at the dog park for about an hour, maybe a little less. Waldo runs around in a frenzy, not paying much attention to anyone. You’d think he was kept in a kennel all day and was finally let loose. He focuses on a smaller dog, a terrier of some kind, and tries to herd her (I’m guessing that’s what he’s doing). I figure it’s time to leave when the other dog decides she’s had enough and growls and bites at Waldo. Waldo is not hurt and he persists despite the terrier’s complaints. The obsession keeps him still long enough for me to put the leash on him. Once he knows he’s restrained, he looks at me like he’s thinking, What? I’m just having fun! Aw, come on, please! I don’t wanna go yet. Can’t we stay just a few more minutes? I pull gently on the leash and, after a moment to consider, Waldo follows me to the car and lies down in the front passenger’s seat, his chin on the console. I stroke his pate, then give him a head-hug. He licks my cheek. Assurance lovingly proffered and returned.

Waldo has exceptionally strong instincts to herd – other dogs, rabbits, bicycles, cars, basically anything that moves fast. When we’re walking next to a busy street, he hunches into a half-down, head low, front and rear ends cocked, ready-to-spring-into-a-gallop stance, and gives the nearest on-coming car, in either direction, the “collie stare.” As the car passes, he bolts into a single-minded puppy-warp six dash on a parallel path. I’m very careful to see that he doesn’t leave the grass and get into the street, but it’s dangerous – if he were to get loose, he would likely get hurt, or worse. I shorten the leash and keep him near me, but he persists in trying to correct the wayward car-sheep that clearly needs to be redirected into a more acceptable way to go (whatever that may be). It’s going to take some time and persistence on my part to train him out of this. He’s only a puppy and he looks like he’s having so much fun, but I do need to keep him safe. We, he and I, have a long ways to go.

I try to go for an extended walk with Waldo down the rail-trail every other day, at least for now. The trek is a little more than eight miles long and takes us about three hours. Waldo loves it, but I find it exhausting. My plan is to eventually do it every day – I am slowly getting into better condition and, as time goes on, it is becoming less and less grueling. Whoa! It just occurred to me, Waldo’s getting into better shape too! Damn, I’m creating a puppy monster! Heavy sigh. Still, the walk will be a good morning constitutional. In the summer, we’ll go in the wee hours before it gets too hot. It may seem like a bit too much, but it’ll be good for both of us – I’ve already lost between 15 to 20 pounds and Waldo gets frantic if he doesn’t get that much exercise and outdoors stimulation. The dog will still need to go out on several short walks during the day, with some romps in the park. Later on, after his skeleton and musculature mature a bit more, I am planning on getting him into agility training, or, who knows, I could get lucky and find a herd of something he could wrangle. There are a few farms around here. I suppose it’s not totally impossible that he could get a job. Wouldn’t that be lovely…

So, I’ve gone from a life that was full of job and career to one that is full of puppy. I have someone to love that loves me. I’m full of hope for a life with a companion dog that is well trained and responsive to my direction and one that I can share life with safely.

And, damn, I have plenty to do.

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