Monday, November 23, 2009

Walking an old dog

I walk Hoss dang near every day, but only walk him in the neighborhood about 1-2 times per week. The neighbor has a lot which is the width of three normal size lots. His yard is filled with 12' tall and 15' foot wide giant bushes. He lives well to the back of his lot, behind an obscuring fence, and never goes into the part of his yard which abuts the street. Before walking in the neighborhood, Hoss and I stop off in the neighbor's field/forest-of-bushes/yard, so Hoss can poop. The neighbor's field/yard is designed for poop. Fertilizer. Everyone wins.

Yesterday, I took Hoss to church, then went straight from the church parking lot to the park, changed clothes, and walked a good distance.

In evening, it felt like we ought walk again, so we went out. Hoss did not poop in the neighbor's field/yard. He had already pooped twice in the park, so, okay: let's move forward. For 20' ... whereupon he pooped in the other neighbors actual yard - which gets mowed and edged and stuff. @#$%^&;*! I grumble my way back to the house, grab some plastic grocery bags to use as poop scooping gloves, head back to the second neighbor's yard, and can't find the poop. This neighbor had poop colored camouflage leaves in his yard. I walked a grid in the poop affected area. I could smell the poop, but could not find it. Crazy.

The neighbor came out. "Is everything okay, sir?" "Why, yes. I'm just walking a grid in your yard and searching for poop." Turns out he works at the Fort Worth Zoo, and is poop friendly. He went and got his official poop scooping utensil and handled receptor. We both walked a small grid in the poop affected area. Nothing. The poop was clearly hiding under a camo leaf, and we could not find it.

And that's my story. I didn't get shot or arrested. Sometimes, not a lot happens in my life.

Hoss is a pleasure to walk. He stays close most of the time, and ranges some of the time. He will return on command, and can be directed from here to there very effectively. I've taught him to stay close when I see a car coming, and to walk exactly beside me on command. If there is serious traffic, he is happy to go on the leash, as he knows he will soon enough come off the leash. I have learned much from watching "Dog Whisperer", on Natl Geographic Channel, and apply those lessons.

I've taken him to a dog park about 5-6 times, and he is now very polite around other dogs. I don't worry about him at all. When walking, he is consistently off the leash, yet doesn't go running up on other dogs which come our way. Sometimes he ignores them; sometimes he approaches them slowly, politely, with tail wagging slowly in greeting. I usually send a polite advance greeting to the other dog owner, to make certain they are comfortable if Hoss approaches.

Upscale dog owners usually are walking polite dogs. Lower income dog owners often are walking semi-dangerous dogs. Don't excoriate me: it's just a fact, I can't help it. The lower income owners are often young adult men who are proud to own tough dogs. Their dogs are very athletic, and need a lot of space to roam, and I suspect these very athletic dogs usually do not have enough space to exercise in their home yards. These young adult men frequently have not socialized their dogs to be polite to other dogs, and frequently appear to be barely in control of their dogs, even though their dogs are on leashes. If I see such a man and dog coming at us, Hoss and I leash up well in advance, and go around when possible - keeping as much distance away as possible.

I never realized what an excellent system of parks and walking trails exists in Fort Worth. This town continues to amaze. The Trinity River has many fingers and tributaries winding through town, and every yard of shore has a walking path close by. Parks? They are everywhere. The only problem is that many of the parks have ducks, and Hoss is undisciplined around things he can kill. We have to go on the leash around any ducks. Yesterday, I stopped Hoss milliseconds before he went into a pond in pursuit of a fish. He had his front paws in the pond, and was prepping for an attacking leap into the water.

Poor Hoss almost never catches any varmint. His tag jingles when he trots, and the varmints hear him at distance, and scamper to safety. He's mostly given up trying to sniff things to kill. It's the futility of always announcing himself via the jingling tag which has messed up his hunting life. He did find a raccoon, and bawled at it like a hound dog - which was funny. Thankfully, he was wise enough to not attack the raccoon. Any raccoon would win against any dog.

My knee is tender - I suspect from a loose piece of meniscus, and I walk in grass whenever possible. Hoss, meanwhile, if we go good distance and he gets tired, gives up the roaming and sniffing in favor of any smooth path. Which sets up this scene: human walking through uneven grassy area; dog walking 20' away on smooth bike path. To me: a funny tableau.


emjay said...

I'm so glad you didn't get shot, but I sorta wish you had been arrested...I'd have come and bailed you out but it would have been so funny!

gcotharn said...

You would have bailed me out for the comedy value? I must be certain any arrests meet your comedy standards. As they are applying the handcuffs, I'll be going, "Woe is me! This isn't funny enough to get my family to bail me out."