walk 10

wednesday, 5:35am. 40° mostly clear.

anybody want to buy a house?

my parents vacationed in charleston, south carolina, for a few years in a row, and decided it was a good place to retire to. a couple of years ago, they bought a house there, and they've been renting it out since then.

my mother will still work as an adjunct professor, maybe looking for a professor of practice position down there. early childhood education, if you know anyone.

the way that the moonlight pokes through the window upstairs in the loft at 5am reminds me of james taylor's "carolina in my mind." i've never visited that area (the mid-atlantic states, some of the midwest, the northern states and the pacific northwest are the areas of the country i haven't seen yet).

i don't know what sorts of papers get delivered at 5:45am, but the guy who was delivering them was nervous about it. "do you know the (last name)s?" "sorry, i only know people by their dogs." which is true, except for my 90-something-year-old neighbor warren. i know a nancy and a mallory and a brian and a kate, but really i know pipin, ridley and copper (brian and kate are a couple). then there's max (chocolate lab mix) and samson (golden retriever), some really submissive black lab mix who barks until you approach him and then just lays down, a couple of beagles, some border collies (one named tanner), a standard poodle, a 25-pound rust-colored something called toby and at least a half dozen others. but no last names. not for anybody.

"do you think they're up yet? i'll just leave them in the door."

must have been real important papers. i'm guessing he's not going to last long in the delivering-sheets-of-paper-at-5:45am business.

walk 9

tuesday, 5:25am. 55°, mostly cloudy.

starting and ending the day with a walk is starting to be a grand raison d'etre for me. who doesn't love a clear mind, a cup of coffee and a little movement in your day?

the morning gives me a little bit of time to shake off the sleep and think about the air before i sit down and think about the coming day. i jump into work right away; my multiple roles at a local gym have me getting started around 6am, and then breaking just long enough to prep and out the door and at the club by about 7:45.

the first thing i do when i get home is get outside with rufus – sometimes that's a walk; other times it's sitting on the patio with the long lead so he can sniff around the back yard.

the after dinner walk with jb and the pup gives me some digestion time, but also some separation between the day and life. i've been sleeping really well since we started these walks – they're actually something we had talked a lot about before we decided to adopt rufus, but we never actually got to them.

seems that happens with a lot of things.

tuesday, 4:45pm. 66° sunny.

this is one of the days i was built for. we got around the block, and now we're heading out back to start setting up the patio. i know it's only march 13 and we're unlikely to have perfect weather for the next six weeks, but i think grilling season is going to start early this year. that's exciting. also, the grill broke (seriously, the kettle actually peeled away from the legs), which means i have to go pick out a new grill. that's awesome.

we grilled on the mini grill (it's like 8 inches high and 10 inches round or something). rufus spent his time laying on the deck, inhaling sausage and charcoal. he'll get used to that; we light the grill a lot.

maybe this is the place for the charcoal/gas argument. maybe not. we'll see. but we're going to have it, you and i. because you like your nice simple gas grill, while i think you might as well just move your oven outside. nothing beats the smell of a charcoal fire, and nothing beats the taste of meat cooked over charcoal with some maple chips thrown in.

walk 8

monday, 5:30am. 38°, clear.

when i was in college, i did a paper on time as a cultural construct.

in the u.s., if you accept a dinner invitation for 4pm, you can show up politely between 3:45 and 4:15. earlier, you're taking away your host's "personal time;" later, the host wonders if s/he's being stood up or if you were wounded in a car accident. in rwanda, if you show up at 3:55, you're impolite, but if you arrive at 7:30, you've kept your date.

it's really clocks and our reliance on them that make up the cultural construct. time passes whether we have the clock or not. it's evidenced by things like the lightening of the sky at dawn, the changing phases of the moon, and our waxing and waning hunger throughout the day.

rufus can't read a clock, but he does recognize patterns in the passage of time.

over the weekend, our schedule was entirely off. we got to my parents' at 11pm on friday; that's later than we're typically awake, and we were up another couple of hours beyond that. saturday was a day of walks and new smells and relaxation and catching up and time at the park, and sunday brought a late wake-up (even later because of the time change), more new smells and a trail hike, then four more hours in the car. dinner was in weird places at weird times for three straight days.

but this morning, my alarm went off in time for the 5am news, and rufus was ready for me at 5:20 when i came up to open the crate and take him out. the pattern is normal to him – radio for a little while, then footsteps past the crate, a light goes on downstairs, a toilet flushes, coffee is poured and then the footsteps head upstairs and it's time for a walk.

after we step out the door, i always ask how he slept; the answer is always the same: rufus looks up at me and wags his tail, as if to say, "let's walk, i have to pee."

in other news, we've been listening to christopher moore's "lamb" on audiobook. (that's relevant, but maybe a little obscure.)

happy monday.

walk 7

sunday, 8:45am. 28°, sunny.

woah, weird neighborhood, weird smells. squirrels!

that pretty much sums up the morning walk.

tomorrow, my childhood home goes on the market. my parents waited until the day after we plan to leave because they didn't want us to drive up and see the "for sale" sign.

we moved into the house in 1979.

rufus will likely have one more visit here when we take a trip with a truckload of stuff that is staying in the family.

more park time later this morning.

walk 6

saturday, 7:30am. 27° sunny.

we're in a new town, new neighborhood, new smells.

we're also not writing much; quality time with the family.

the road trip was long; normally a 3.5 to 4-hour trip, we were on the road 5.5 hours, what with the slow plows and the occasional blinding snow.

the biggest challenge was the lead-up.

"wait, my crate, my bed, food dish, stuffed animals – they're all in the car? oh no, this can't be good!"

rufus was dropped off at the shelter once; i can't imagine this looked good to him.

rest stops were stressful; the high wind and empty parking lots were not conducive to peeing. we had dinner under the shelter of a hatchback, and finally had a good bathroom trip when we stopped at a rest area in massachusetts, where they have a designated dog walk area, so there were the usual dog smells.

saturday, 1:30pm. 37° sunny.

time for the park!

we played some fetch, met some people, met some dogs (we liked rush the greyhound, weren't too crazy about jackson the pointer mix, even though he followed us in the opposite direction of his human for a little while).

parks = love.

saturday, 8:30pm. 24° clear.

"umm, what's happening?"

"it's a poopy dance!"

"umm, ok. that's weird."

we should all have poopy dances. it would probably make for better digestion, fitter people, and hysterical reality television.

walk 5

friday, 5:35am. 28°, flurries.

road trip prep time. jb joined us this morning; rufus clearly knows something's different. he's totally down with the excitement. (we'll see if he's still excited four hours into the car trip after eight hours home alone.)

we're off to see my parents this weekend. rufus will be hanging with the cat (ought to be interesting), and will get in a hike or a park jaunt in a new place (which means training exercises, like sit-stay, with new distractions).

the thing that put me over the edge in wanting a dog was this post from nate green. the major ways my personality is evolving are things like patience, discovery, and an enjoyment of everyday things (not just "common" things in the world, but things I see and use every day). it's easy to find new details if you spend a few minutes looking at things you never really *look* at.

short post this morning, since we're working on a tight schedule. the afternoon and evening walks will be less than stellar, given our schedule later. but probably some interesting stuff from the weekend!

walk 4

thursday, 5:30am. 56°, cloudy, windy.

one of the first things we learned in our obedience training was how to spacially arrange ourselves hierarchically as pack leaders.

if you read the about page, you know rufus is on a training collar. we attach a 6-foot leash (you'll notice in photos that we use a chain leash – when we picked him up, he was prone to chewing his leash, so fabric was out), and walk with him on a loose leash. if he passes the walker, he gets a correction and the walker turns in the other direction.

when the walker stops, s/he draws an imaginary line across the toes. if the dog puts one toe in front of that line, he gets a correction and the walker turns the other direction.

the result of this, if you see us on our walks, is that rufus is never in front (i'm always walking him, he's never walking me), and unless he's sniffing at a mailbox or something that's a few feet from the curb, the leash is never taught. if i stop, even if he it takes him a moment to notice, he'll stop behind me. if he doesn't stop behind me, he'll bounce backward so that he is behind me.

the leader of the pack reaps a couple of benefits. firstly, he eats first. secondly, he is the focus of attention, and attention is the currency of the dog world.

those benefits, however, come with the responsibility to keep the pack safe. if your dog freaks out whenever you're in a new place, it's because she thinks she's the leader, she's responsible for you, and she doesn't know this place. she knows her living room, and would rather be there.

it's also why your dog barks uncontrollably when uncle bob visits. even if you tell her that he's ok, you're not the pack leader and so you're probably not a good judge of character.

i can tell that i'm working my way toward pack leader because of the way we walk, and because rufus doesn't challenge me when he down-stays while i stand tall over his dinner dish. i control the food, he obeys.

but these windy mornings, it's still the wind who is the leader of the pack. rufus is still on alert, not trusting me to keep us safe. he understands that the forces that bring the weather on are unhappy, and there's nothing josh or jb can do about it.

time to be uncomfortable. time to get inside where there are walls and a roof.

spring time & i didn’t realize

the air is fresh. the forecast says the temperature will reach the mid 60s today. i close my eyes and hear birds chirping, sharing their excitement of spring with one another. rufus is at my side and is so excited to get his nose up close to a street sign's pole without snow being in the way. i feel a tug on the leash; "rufus on the case,"  josh and i say when rufus is fascinated by what he smells. most people's favorite season is autumn. the sights: pumpkins, scare crows, apple orchards, halloween. the smells: autumn leaves, freshly mulled apple cider, a crispness in the air, the well-known family feast in november.  My favorite season is spring followed closely by summer. spring time: new life, fresh air, spring cleaning, dogs with their owners jogging, walking, playing. people spend more time out walking and riding bikes. i'm so excited for rufus' first spring with us. we'll play fetch. we'll run. we'll rollerblade and explore trails in local parks.


i didn't realize how strong the human/canine bond can be. i didn't realize he'd find me wherever i am. i didn't realize he'd race josh to greet me when i arrive home. i didn't realize i'd laugh so hard at something so simple or an act i usually perform and take for granted. i didn't realize the power of forgiveness: we didn't like that carpet anyway. today's a new day. i'm still your mom, you're still our son. i love you, we'll always be a family. i realize now, the strength of our bond.

walk 3

wednesday, 5:15am. 37°, cloudy & breezy.

"just because you're paranoid / don't mean they're not after you."

it's been a windy winter. say what you will (or won't) about climate change, the earth has made it clear it's angry with all the wind.

wind brings suspicion.

our little suburban neighborhood is usually quiet at 5am. on rare occasions, we'll see another dog walker; i imagine that will increase as the weather gets warmer and it starts getting lighter earlier.

but on windy days, it feels like something has changed. rufus sticks closer than usual. typically, he's a close walker, sticking within a foot or two until he decides to go off and sniff something. when it's windy, his nose is right at my knee, frequently touching it. he's on alert throughout the walk, tail pointed, ears up. he has to be convinced it's ok to step away to sniff and pee and be a dog.

that's where our training comes in, i guess – if i'm doing enough to prove i'm a leader, he'll go about being a dog and let me handle it. i expect that's probably a 6-month process. perhaps longer.

it's supposed to be extra warm today. this afternoon might involve a park.

wednesday, 3:30pm. 66°, partly sunny.

yes, you read that right. 34 hours brought a 54-degree increase. woah. park time. trail walk, fetch, meeting some other dogs.

rufus loves the ladies (check out that pimpin' grin). i think he played with their dogs and licked their children's faces because he got compliments.

rufus also discovered what 30 feet is like as a distance. he got tired of playing with the little dogs and wanted to play with a big dog. unfortunately, the big dog was 50 feet away and the lead is 30 feet. you know what birds look like when they fly into windows? kinda like that. he just sat right down, because he had no idea what was going on.

but he got to play with the big dog, an aging yellow lab. she had eyes that looked like they had seen a century's worth of kibble and puppies.


walk 2

tuesday, 5:35am. 12°, cloudy.

rufus is a pansy.

there, i said it.

typically, when we see an animal on a walk, he'll stop and whine about it. as in, "daddy, there's an animal there, and i'm worried it's gonna eat us. can we turn around and go the other way?"

this morning, we heard some barking, but i encouraged us to keep walking anyway. as we approached the intersection, two yappers came running across the yard.

rufus is a 75-pound lab. these were two dogs that looked like they were a bundled mass of cotton balls and vocal cords; they probably weighed in at under 10 pounds apiece.

they sniffy-sniffed, and rufus pretty much just stood there and whimpered.

and then he pooped (which he doesn't usually do the morning following an evening poop) right in the middle of the street. no poopy dance or anything, just plop.

by the way, this blog is about walking with a dog. we're probably going to be talking poop and pee a lot.

just a warning there.

tuesday, 4:15pm. 38°, cloudy.

yep, definitely a pansy. a scottish terrier kept rufus from marking a telephone pole.

it's heading toward spring. yes, it's been a mild winter in central new york, but it's definitely heading toward a new season. my allergies are kicking in. i'm shaking off the slight seasonal affective depression i generally get in january and february (primarily because of the lack of light – it doesn't have so much to do with the cold or the snow). everybody seems to have more energy.

also: babies are delicious. ok, so i frequently joke about throwing them on a grill. but introduce your little one to rufus, and she's in danger of being licked to death. keep away the little dogs, but bring on the small humans.

it must be the pooping in public thing. dogs and babies are pretty much the only ones allowed to poop in public so long as the accompanying adult discards the waste.

hey, i warned you about the poop talk.