Walking With Dogs

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Rosa Parks has not been interested in walking with me lately.

She and Clover were good walking companions, both up for chasing chipmunks and exploring all manner of smells. I once saw Clover come upon a large paw print in the snow. Coyote! She placed her nose down near it, and gave a knowing look in the direction of the little dog. Rosa Parks ran over to investigate. She also put her nose down to the indentation, and she and Clover gazed at each other. Not a word was exchanged, but an entire dialogue went on, from one dog to the other, as they each smelled the danger, and looked knowingly into each others eyes.

Ever since Clover died, Rosa has been nervous about getting out for a walk. She just doesn’t quite trust me to keep her safe (this, though I have gone over in my mind a thousand times – so I would be prepared should the need arise –  exactly how I would respond if a coyote would try to grab my little dog, throwing myself onto the offender while yelling, “Run, Rosa Parks, run!”). I thought Darla might make her feel safe again, but that hasn’t worked out quite as I’d planned. Darla doesn’t take much of an interest in the little dog, and goes about her business of chasing birds and rolling in smelly stuff without ever considering that Rosa might like to join in.

Most often, Rosa Parks stays home. She has a bum knee that makes a walking unpleasant. Still, the only way to help her knee is to have her lose some weight. That is difficult when she hardly moves from the couch. I have tried carrying her out to the road to encourage her to walk with me. Usually she turns and comes home as soon as I put her down. She stubbornly sits in the driveway, deaf to my calls, until I give up.

Yesterday, when I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk, she thought I said “ride.” She leaped right up, wagging tail and grinning. When Darla and I continued down the driveway past the car, Rosa sat down. Having loved her enthusiasm, I was not willing to let it go so easily. “Okay, Rosa Parks, we’ll go for the ride,” I told her. With Darla in the passenger seat and Rosa on my lap, we rode…one mile south, all the way to Hannigan Road. I parked on the side of the road and we all got out. If she wanted to go home from here, Rosa Parks had a long walk ahead of her. She decided to stick with me.

Hannigan Road is narrow, and lined with a mix of soft and hard woods. Darla ran ahead to explore; Rosa stayed closer to me. When I offered, after a half-mile, to turn back toward the car, Rosa kept going. “Good for you!” I told her, and we continued down the road. When we’d gone a mile, we turned. That’s when Rosa Parks sat down. I continued walking, thinking she’d catch up. She made no effort to move. Now and then, when I looked back, she was licking her sore leg. Other times, she just watched, and waited. Eventually, I went back to get her, and carried her back to the car.

Yesterday, all three of us got a walk in. As for me, after carrying my twenty pound dog down the road, I got a strength workout, too!

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