March 09, 2021

I could play in this all day!


In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human.  The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.

-Edward Hoagland


I look up from where I am ensconced in my comfy recliner, legs all stretched out, and see a pair of black eyes staring unblinkingly at me.  Waldo is as still as stone and I get this feeling he’s repeating over and over in his head, “You wanna go for a walk.  You wanna go for a walk.  You wanna go for a walk.”   One thing for sure, I could never win a stare-down with this dog.  Some dogs will whine, or scratch at the door, or pace nervously about the room to let you know they want to go out, but not Waldo.  No.  He goes for the old mind projection thing of “If I concentrate hard enough on it, it will happen.”  It’s as if he’s trying to bore his thoughts into my head — which maybe he can, because I get it.

Once I get out of my chair and start to dress for the wintry weather, he gets all excited and starts running in circles.  After a few circuits, he goes over to something that will make some noise if he paws it, like his aluminum dog dishes.  A couple of swats and spilled water later, he goes back to spinning.  I’m trying to tie my boots and he comes over and sticks his nose and tongue in the loose laces, trying to lick my fingers.  I do battle with his gooey, slimy, pink thing, doing my best to keep his parts out of the knot I’m tying.  He then raises a paw at me swipes at my pant leg as if to say, “Come on!  Let’s go!  Let’s go!”  Only once I’m all together and I stand does he attack the door, lunging at it with 50 pounds of puppy power.  I have to tell him to sit so he’ll calm down enough so I can get the leash on his collar.  Once that’s done, I open the door and swoosh, he’s racing down the stairs (a far cry from when I first got him and I had to carry him up and down the stairs).  He gets to the bottom and stares at the outside door, again trying to exercise mind control, and bolts out into the snow as soon as it opens.  It doesn’t take him long to get to the extreme end of the leash and we’re off.

Over the past week or so, Mother Nature has seen fit to grace us with a good foot or more of snow.  Property management has plowed the sidewalks, streets and parking places quite well, but our path usually takes us over where the grass is buried deep under the cold, white fluffy stuff.  Over many treks down the same path, we’ve worn narrow deep canyons through which Waldo charges as if he’s in a rush to get to where they lead.  But he’s not.  He’s just antsy, anxious to get out and run off his border-collie energy.  He sniffs about, his proboscis radar on the lookout for a buried stick, or pee-mail, or any other interesting odor lurking about.

The going is uneven and I’m struggling to keep my balance which slows me down.  Waldo has four smaller feet, walks a lot closer to the ground and doesn’t have to work so hard to keep his footing.  He’s faster than I am and often finds he has to stop and wait for me to catch up.  Sometimes, the path diverges in a “Y” and Waldo takes a wrong turn.  “This way!” I call and he porpoises through the deep untrodden snow between the paths, leaving deep footprints about three feet apart separated by undisturbed snow.  A gazelle couldn’t do it better.  He loves this stuff.

After a quarter mile or so, Waldo finds a place to squat.  He does what he needs to and then goes a little ways and stops, waiting for me to pick up what he has deposited.  Once done, I say, “Okay,” and he continues on his way, doing his Waldo thing.  I stumble along behind and watch him being a dog, enjoying the outdoors.  And I can’t help but share in that joy.  Although we are separate beings with our own individuality, we are also something else, something shared, something somehow merged, acting as a unit.  A part of each of us has met somewhere in the middle ground between us and formed something non-dog and non-human, and yet both dog and human.  Waldo and I, we have become a couple.  A couple of what, I’m not sure.

But we are a couple.


Ah! Nothing like freshly fallen snow!

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