March 26, 2019

Being inside with Waldo is a challenge. Despite my best intentions and frequent sojourns in the snow, it’s just too cold to spend much time outside. We try to compensate by playing inside – fetch, tug-of-war and training (like “sit,” “splat [lay down],” “stay” and so on). But it’s really not enough for the puppy and he has serious cabin fever. When he’s restless, he’s constantly at me, looking for entertainment – toys in my lap, dog in my lap, teeth on my shoes, paws clawing at my legs. I do my best to come up with new ways to keep him busy, but how much can you do while sequestered inside a one-bedroom apartment, seeking refuge from the winter weather? I can keep myself busy without any trouble, but Waldo – not so much. Eventually, I get tired of pulling on one end of a fabric toy soaked in dog slime and brace myself for winter in New England.

There is a rail-trail near where we live. It was used, originally, by a train that ran about 10.2 miles from Marlborough to the neighboring town of Hudson. The rails are gone and the two towns have paved over the path. No motorized vehicles are allowed (except snow plows) and it provides for a beautiful rural walk all year round. Dogs need to be on leash, but I don’t feel comfortable letting Waldo run free in a non-fenced-in area yet anyway. I like to go there whenever I can muster up the intestinal fortitude. It’s funny, once I’m out walking the dog, I really enjoy it. However, I very seldom would get my ass of my easy-chair and explore the great outdoors without the dog. Waldo loves it.

It’s a bit warmer outside than it has been, but still chilly when we get to the trail.   Temperature is just a couple of degrees above freezing and the air has that fresh, brisk, clean odor with only a wisp of snow-smell tainting the air. I can feel my cheeks, the only exposed skin I’ve allowed, flush in the cold. It brings out vague memories of playing in the snow in my younger years. I walk along on the plowed paved part of the path and Waldo runs in front of me, venturing from side to side into the deep snow, plowing into the banks, burrowing under the crusty surface and rolling around.

Waldo has an eight-meter-long leash, so he has a lot of leeway as to where he can go and what he can do. This is intentional. He spends most of his time at the extreme end of the leash, but he is not just walking (God knows he’d love to be running, if not for the old[ish] man-anchor at the other end), he is checking out everything. The least little movement grabs his attention and he stops and stares. Any discoloration in the snow deserves investigation, and, of course, everything, everything, needs a good sniff and sometimes a [yuk] taste. Sometimes, he stops, head up, sparkle in his eye, and just looks around. I can almost hear him think, Wow, this place is cool! I’m probably anthropomorphizing here, and definitely projecting, but, looking at Waldo, I get the sense that he is a new visitor to the world (which he is) who is totally enthralled by the magic around him that he is just discovering in the moment.

I strongly believe that curiosity is a sign of intelligence. In fact, I’m not so sure the two are not synonymous. Curiosity seems to be a necessary and sufficient condition for intelligence. I’ve never met anyone who was curious and not intelligent, nor anyone who I considered intelligent who was not curious. Waldo is very curious. About everything. A nearly empty memory bank requiring new input data, soaking it up constantly. Every person and dog we pass needs a Waldo-greeting. He waddle-wags his tail as he approaches and says hello. A couple of pats and pets by the passers-by and Waldo goes on, looking for the next thing, as if to say, “Been there, done that.” We do this for two to three hours, when I’m totally spent, then we return home. Waldo doesn’t slow down at all – until we get into the apartment. He has no throttle, just an on/off button. Once home, he lays down, apparently exhausted.

That doesn’t last long.

1 comment

Has to sleep on that hard floor 🙁 Get the poor guy a bed…

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