Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walking With Benny (#162)

As previously threatened, er, promised, I'm going to post excerpts now and then from a journal I've been writing about my walks with Benny, a young Jack Russell Terrier. During the course of these walks - which mostly take place in woods and fields near my home - we learn about each other and some of the small wonders of Nature. Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the philosopher Yogi Berra. One of his pronouncements which has always resonated with me is "You can observe a lot just by watching."

When Ben allows it, I watch and listen. When I allow it, he sniffs and digs. It evens out. Yogi would be pleased.


The weather prophets were on their game again. We’re in the midst of a major winter storm. There’s already a few inches on the ground and it’s still coming down hard, driven by a fierce wind. I almost decided not to go out at all until I thought of those hungry ducks. I’d go at least as far as the pond.

And we did. Thank goodness we didn’t try to go further because I was puffing like a bellows and my heart was thumping like a bunny by the time we got there. My fall-free winter also came to a crashing halt.

Twice. And before I even got to the end of the street.

Sheesh. What a revoltin’ development. There was glare ice under those several inches of powdery snow. Both times I went down on my left side and popped (nearly) immediately back up - my dignity smarting more than my knee or hip. Ben glanced back each time and I imagined I saw a shrug before he returned to his own thoughts.

There was some small respite from the stinging, wind-driven snow when we got to the cedar grove. I took advantage of that to slow down and rest a bit. My thigh muscles had forgotten what they’d learned during the last big snowfall a month ago.

I reviewed my decision to not try to get to the main birdfeeding stations today. It made sense, and not only from the standpoint of my health. After slogging my way up there, I’d have to clear the accumulated snow from the boulders and logs and spread seed, knowing that in 20 minutes it would be covered up again with a fresh dusting of snow. It wasn’t unusually cold and the birds and squirrels I’d helped fatten up would be just fine.


There were about four dozen ducks at the pond and they were hungry. I was glad I’d come.

As I tossed bread, I was thinking about letting Ben off his leash on the way back home. It would be for the first time when walking along our usual route. The foreshortened walk wouldn’t diminish his energy level much and that didn’t bode well for a pester-free couple of hours to write when we got back. But if allowed to run free, he could put a couple of extra kilometres on his pawdometer while zigging and zagging hither and yon.

Nobody else seemed interested in walking in a blizzard, so there was little chance of an unwelcome encounter with a dog or a person. I wasn’t at all convinced Ben would respond to my call if he smelled, saw, or heard something wonderful in the opposite direction. It was the main reason I'd kept him leashed at all times.

When we’d left the pond behind and were re-entering the grove, I called to him. He trotted up, looking puzzled as I bent down and reached for his collar.

“Listen buddy. I’m taking the leash off but you MUST come when I call or this will be a one-time, never-to-be-repeated experience. Kapeesh?”

He gave me that endearing look that pets get when they’re thinking what a whack-job you are.

But as soon as I unclicked the leash and stood up with it in my hand, he realized his good fortune and was off like a shot.

It went pretty well, all in all. I had to call him a couple of times when he disappeared from view and each time he ran back and waited for me to get closer before venturing off again. It was fun to watch him gamboling like a young colt, running pell-mell then leaping, landing, skidding, and veering off in a new direction to do it all again.

When we were within 200 yards of the roadway I called him and got the leash out of the bag so he could see it. He was surprisingly patient and held still while my gloved fingers fumbled with the clasp. He was shivering. Silly twit insists on eating fresh snow and it freezes him from the inside out.

Hmm...his compliance probably had much to do with the fact he was quite ready to get home, have breakfast and warm up.

So while I was pleased with how this test went, I know enough about my headstrong JRT buddy that I’m not going to assume we’ll have the same result next time.


If you're interested in other stories, pictures and even a video or two about Benny, then you'd best visit Hilary's blog and scroll through some of her past posts. Many feature Benny and his antics.