It’s finally happened.
For the first time in over 10 years I’ve headed out on a walk without Buzz.
Just two years ago the hound would beg to go. If for some reason I was home and we didn’t walk, he’d follow me around and give me long hard stares, letting out an occasional whine until he got his way.
Not that it’s a big imposition; I love to walk and some of my happiest moments during the past decade have been on hikes with him. As I’ve detailed in this space there was the time:
He tiptoed into some water – water from the overfilled Coralville Reservoir during a flood year – that covered our trail on a warm spring day. The moment his paw touched the tranquil glassy pool it exploded into a hundred shards of startled carp. In an instant he joined the Donneybrook, pouncing from fish to fish always a moment too late.
He chased another dog around the corner of a barn – with me in hot pursuit – only to have us interrupt the canine handler for the county sheriff doing some drug detection training. When the officer asked what I was doing, I explained I was trying to catch a Buzz.
He scrambled into a copse of multi floral rose so thick that he actually stuck halfway into it, and I had to help extricate him from nature’s barbwire.
He disappeared for an unusually long amount of time (he rarely lets me out of his sight) and returned looking and smelling as if he’d fallen into a tar pit or septic tank or both.
He pursued a deer stride for stride over a vast waist high cornfield, his brown back bouncing gracefully above the green sea and over the horizon.
And the many times he’s walked up along side me and gave my hand a little bump with his head, as if to say thanks for being my friend.
But as he’s eased into the canine equivalent of being an octogenarian, his exploits are mostly, if not all, behind him. He’s content to stay by my side with only short side trips to sniff something interesting.
He never did like the cold − he was bred for the warm plains of Africa after all − but the need to run free trumped his need for warmth.
Not anymore, however.
Now he’s more than happy to migrate about the house finding sunny spots for a series of long snoozes. When walk time comes – I still walk as does our other dog, Pearl, in even the harshest of weather – he may lift an eyelid and give a small wag of his tail, but that’s it. At the same time he makes it perfectly clear that the spot on the sofa is quite comfortable, thank you very much.
He’s still in tiptop form in one area, however. When the weather’s inclement he can wait to answer nature’s call longer than any living critter I’ve ever known. We measure time between bathroom breaks with a calendar.
Meanwhile, Pearl continues to get into things.
The other night, for example, I came home to find Sabra in the kitchen with two bags each of extra large almonds and cashews. I asked for a nut but was told in no uncertain terms not to touch them, as she was making Christmas treats out of them.
An hour later, while working upstairs at my computer, I heard yells coming from the kitchen. Sabra had left the kitchen for just a minute only to return to find three empty nut bags and a fourth filled with Pearl’s head.
She got scolded but only for a sort while. A couple hours later Sabra was giving her a bedtime treat.
Note to self: Next time just take the nuts.