Yep, another excerpt from Walking With Benny.
Last evening’s walk was a misery. A wind-whipped rain (one degree colder and there’s another word for it) made me glad for my hood. My gloves were soon soaked and do not retain heat at all well when wet. By the time we returned, Ben was shivering and needed to be toweled off. (Don’t feel sorry for him. Within seconds, he was playing tug-of-war with the towel.)
So I was pleased to awaken to a sunny day that was a couple of degrees on the happy side of freezing.
Last night’s rain was still frozen in the shaded areas, so I had to tippy-toe for part of the walk but the sunshine and warmth made up for that temporary discomfort. The birds were still singing their fool heads off except, of course, for the gulls and crows. They can’t sing a lick. They screeched and cawed their fool heads off though; sounding just as happy, if a trifle less melodic, than their kin.
I joined them occasionally, in a dignified manner. My caw has promise but I think I’ll retire my screech.
Ben is learning the Joy of Sticks. He seeks them out now, especially when I’ve stopped to do something boring like listen to a set of rapids or try to spot a calling bird. His favourites are moist and heavily barked. These shred easily and really, what good is a chew if it doesn’t make some kind of a mess? Like most pups, he was gifted in this area. At eight weeks of age, he could turn a single tissue into 273 pieces and distribute them throughout three rooms. In less than a minute. The lad was a prodigy. And a bit spooky.
Anyway, for a goodly portion of our walks these days, he’s either happily carrying or happily destroying a stick. It’s quite comical to watch at times. He’s especially proud when he manages to snag a long one, a three-footer or so. Of course, it’s whip-thin but to look at this wee dog prancing down the path, head and tail proudly erect, you’d think he just broke a stick-carrying world record and he’s basking in the huzzahs of the cheering throng.
And then I lunge - as if to steal it - and the game is on.
My thunderfeet are no match for his limber legs and he knows it. He taunts me, scampering some distance ahead, then laying down for a quick gnaw while never taking his eyes off my lumbering progress.
I give up. I stand erect, lower my arms from their vaguely menacing, gonna-grab-that-stick position, and walk more quickly, not looking at him. I am obviously tiring of the game. He dances ever closer with the stick, alert for any untoward movement of mine. He suspects I’m likely feigning. I mean, who wouldn't want such a yummy stick?
Another lunge, a quick dodge, and he’s off again, grinning.
Maybe I’m too old and too clumsy to win at this game (although I prefer to blame my heavy winter boots and clothing) but you’re never too old to play, right?