Thursday, May 12, 2005

Loki the dog

A while back the word went out that Anna, who lives two doors down from me, needed somebody to walk her dog morning and night, because her husband is ill and she can't leave his side.

I decided to take this on, even though I don't like dogs and never have had one. I'm enjoying it but it's cutting down on my blogging time.

Loki is a 140-pound chocolate lab. He's what my kids call a "table dog," exceptionally broad in the beam.

When he hears me coming he starts with the woofing and then stands up on his gate and shouts and slobbers in my face. When he shakes his head, spit is thrown in every direction, it can't be avoided.

Anna straps him into a massive purple harness thing and slips a couple treats in my pocket (for him, not me) and off we go.

Perhaps Loki is a reincarnation of a mule or an ox. He has two speeds - a labored mosey and a businesslike trot - and then his specialty, the dead stop. I pull and pull and nothing happens. He weighs as much as I do and his center of gravity is low and supported by twice as many feet as I have. I've discovered if I slack the lead and then get a running start (backwards), I can budge him most of the time.

Sometimes a little black sausage dog comes along. This sausage dog, which is a free citizen of the neighborhood (no leash), evidently watches for me cause he comes roaring out from somewhere when I start up the driveway and dances back and forth in front of us the whole way around the block.

I thought maybe I'd be able to think deep thoughts on these walks, but getting Loki to put one paw in front of another, over and over again, in a somewhat timely manner, well that just takes all my attention.

We stop at each mailbox, of course, so he can check the day's doggie news and leave his own comments. He follows several of these canine blogs regularly.

There are stops for the actual business of the walk - and a treat is de rigeur afterwards. If I don't pull a treat out of my pocket, forward motion ceases. This reminds me of Bill Murray scolding Steve Martin: "Why isn't there a cracker today? When I did the trick earlier, there was a cracker. Yesterday, I did the trick, a cracker. Wednesday, cracker, Thursday, cracker, Friday, cracker. Why, today, no cracker?"

If I try breaking the treat in half and giving him only half, he noses in my pocket for the other half.

Zed calls Loki slothful. I say he's pacing himself. How's he going to live into the twenty-second century if he hustles all the time?

Today Loki's amble was so slow I began daydreaming about walking these streets long ago with my toddlers. Time stops. There is no longer a goal. Thinking about forward motion only leads to madness. With toddlers, it's special pieces of gravel and exploded bugs that are of absorbing interest. For Loki, it is particular patches of grass and forsythia patches - and each mailbox, of course.

If we were not traveling at such a glacial pace, I might not have noticed that the grass around the base of many mailboxes is greener from the frequent fertilizing. Why didn't I ever see that before?

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At 3:48 PM, Blogger Mirty said...

LOL. Great post. I love my dogs, and they do a good job of keeping the grass in the backyard green. All of them are under five years old and still brisk walkers.

Labs have a tendency to put on weight and slow down as they get older, but my black Lab is staying young thanks to the constant harassment of the three smaller dogs. Still, we often refer to him as the "beached whale", "sofa", "The Blob" and other such descriptive terms.


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