My Dog and Her Walks

It’s getting to be where I hate to walk our dog.

Because we have no back yard - and when I say ‘no back yard,’ I don’t mean just a tiny patch of grass or not a big back yard or less than a half acre; I mean no back yard. Within our back fence there is a swimming pool, some paved type surface, a bunch of bushes and trees in flower beds filled with mulch and rock, but no grass. Thus, no back yard - I have to walk Grace, our 85-pound-and-gaining-by-the-week Akita, on a leash in the neighborhood twice a day.

Grace loves to walk on a leash and at first it was fun for everyone involved. But now, for a reason I can’t figure out other than the fact that she is a moody type who does things differently just for the heck of it, she’s not good on the leash. She jerks around, lunges after rabbits, criss-crosses in front of me, stops and backtracks to smells she may have missed. I regularly run into her, which is harder on the knees than you would think (her hide is like big chunk of rubber). She’s also started to make this noise in her sinuses between her nose and her mouth which sounds like a pig rooting around in a trough full of potato peelings. The entire dog walking experience is not a smooth operation in any way, shape or form. I’ve tried bringing along a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with me and that has had disastrous results. I’ll admit, I keep trying, though.

It’s getting to be where I don’t look forward to walking her at all. Anything that can’t be done easily with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in your hand can’t be all that rewarding.

The other day during our early morning walk (I take her between 6 and 6:30 a.m., when most of our neighborhood is still asleep and all the other dogs are having twitchy cat-chasing dreams) Grace lunged after a rabbit, which I should have expected. The Valencia rabbits are ridiculously slow and stupid. They are the most trusting wild animals I have ever known. They can see us coming, smell us coming and hear Grace panting and slobbering all over the sidewalk, but they don’t run. I once had to throw a rock at a rabbit just to get him to hop away so we could continue down the sidewalk.

Normally I see the rabbit first and will either change course or throw stones, but this time I may have been admiring Halloween decorations, Grace saw the rabbit first and lunged hard and fast, nearly ripping the arm out of my socket. I let out an involuntary yelp, which actually echoed. At 6:15 in the morning, the sound of a middle aged woman yelping was probably the most exciting thing that has happened in our neighborhood since the college kid behind us had a 200-hour-long party while he was house-sitting for his parents last summer.

The thing about Grace lunging for the rabbit is that she knows better. When we first started walking her on a leash, on the walking path behind Kroger and the Post Office in Lexington, she lunged for a bird once and I thought I really did lose an arm. I was so mad at her, I kept her on a 5-inch lead for the rest of the walk. For two years, whenever she would see a bird she would look up at me sheepishly, as if to say, “Woah, a bird. Remember that time I lunged after the bird. Woah.”

Off the leash, Grace has a long history of chasing down, catching and killing animals. This dog who is afraid of cloudy days and is startled by the sound of the oven door closing, will run like a gazelle, catch a possum or a rabbit by the neck and snap it dead in one bite. It’s hideous and will make you think twice before skimping on the dog treats. “Nice doggy . . . niiiiiiice doggy . . .” we say to her after she comes in looking for a Milk Bone after ridding our property of vermin.

Of course the job of disposing of the bodies is left to me, since Tim is mysteriously AWOL right after a kill.

So here in Florida, the fact that we have no back yard is probably OK. Grace would just start killing the rabbits and whatever else wandered into her ring of terror. And who knows what I might have to shovel up - Rats? Alligators? Iguanas? Kimodo Dragons? It could get messy.

For now, we’ll stick to the leash, sans wine, sans coffee, but with the poop bag and a pocketful of rocks to throw at the rabbits.

Labels: , ,