Mike takes me for a long walk every afternoon, and most days go into the park . I generally like to follow the same script every time. I sniff everything in sight between home and the parade grounds, then hustle along past the giant soccer ball to Chloë’s Lane, where we play fetch for about 20 minutes. Then we make a wide circuit of the bluffs and meadows, pausing on the way home for another search for food scraps by the park entrance and a flop on the corner lawn across the street. Unless I break away to chase rabbits and get caught in a blackberry thicket, that’s what we do every day. Mike might like to have more variety, but I love my routines.
Every once in a while, however, something different happens.
Sometimes it’s an encounter with a new dog. The one I’ve liked best lately is Harry. I’m just wild about Harry, a big gallumph of a black labradoodle, mostly doodle. Harry has a big smile and likes to stare at Mike’s treat bag, so I could tell we were simpatico. At the other extreme, one day in the south meadow a pit bull named Barney barreled through unleashed, his owner telling Mike, “He’s good with little dogs!” I did not encourage Barney to chase me, but he did, and I cowered behind Mike until she finally harnessed Barney up. But as we walked away, I could see Barney bounding through the meadow again, heading towards another unsuspecting dog as the woman yelled, “It’s OK, he’s friendly!”
I’m usually OK with dogs that we meet on the trail or the parade ground, when I can see them coming. But when I get surprised, I get very defensive and start barking. And I can get territorial when defending my turf along Chloë’s Lane.But when the goldendoodle Toby showed up the other day, I could sense he was lost, so I let him hang. Mike used some treats to lure him back towards the Headquarters Building, and sure enough, a women was striding down the pavement with leash in hand, calling out his name. Toby and his owner were both very relieved and grateful that I had guided him back.
We’ve seen the tightrope guy do his thing above the parade ground several times. The most recent time a few weeks ago he brought a small entourage along to watch, but they must have left disappointed when he bailed about halfway across. Even so, my feet still hurt just thinking about it.
But the best thing that happened on a walk lately took place just outside the park, across the street on the small patch of grass between the sidewalk and the roadway. One day a small fish was lying on the grass there. Mike saw it first, and wisely steered me to the other side of the intersection before my nose discovered it. Although it was only the size of something you’d see in a fish tank, that’s not where it came from. Mike figured it was a small bait fish that a bird had scarfed up down by Puget Sound and later dropped for some reason, such as being attacked by a larger bird. It just happened to land on Chloë’s favorite corner, where Mike let it stay, expecting another bird or a raccoon would find it and haul it away.
By the time we returned from our walk in the park the next afternoon, Mike had forgotten all about it. Needless to say, I hadn’t. I grabbed it and ate it with quick, forceful bites and thought, “yum and um.” Mike had the satisfaction of seeing the look on hs child’s face when she catches her first fish. Worth every penny.