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.


Hilary said...

I'm so going to love reading this book when it's published. I smell a best-seller. :)

Thanks for the plug.

Jo said...

That was a fun romp! I'm disturbed to realize I'm like Benny and can't resist eating fresh snow...we also have the leaping, landing, skidding, and veering in common.

You're an intrepid duck-feeding blizzard-warrior of sorts, bravo!

The Merry said...

Isn't the phrase "headstrong JRT" redundant? :)

I miss my dog! She's coming home soon, but I envy you being able to walk with your dog -- even in snow and ice. (The postal service has got nuthin' on dog owners!)

Frank Baron said...

Hilary, that means a lot to me because you're so not biased. ;)

Don't feel badly Jo. Maybe you like to eat fresh snow but I bet you draw the line at biting shovels. (<-- One of Ben's little idiosyncrasies.)

Merry, you're right, of course. :)

Glad you and your dog will be reunited soon.

Stace said...

I remember having a dog... I remember having a JRT, which I didn't like, but I do have VERY fond memories of our labrador, Ebony. Both of them - Ebony 1 died back in '95, and Ebony 2 was put down late last year. I love reading your dog-stories :)

Sally said...

Frank, it sounds so wild and exciting. Here in southwest England we're basking in weather typical of early summer! Please tell me, what is glare ice?

MagnoliaGirl said...

Ahhh, your snowy words created just the brain-trip I needed as I looked out the window of my "desert" hotel in Tuscon Arizona. I'm finding I don't do "brown" so well--I prefer green or white:) Just here for a few more hours then back to Tampa bay which I probably won't complain about for a few days after this!
That JRT is quite a smart fellow in his understated way. Glad to hear about your journeys...

Frank Baron said...

Labs are great dogs Stace, and you aren't the first (nor will you be the last, I'm sure) to tell me they're not too fond of JRTs. Ben would win you over though. He's a charming little fart. :)

Hiya Sally/Maud, thanks for visiting. :)

Glare ice is mirror smooth. When bare, it will reflect light. It's hideously tricky to walk or drive upon. Thankfully, it's usually a fairly short-term condition. Salting, snowing, and freeze/melt cycles all combine to coarsen it which allows better traction.

Hiya Sandra. Arizona eh? Is there going to be a story about that?

Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for letting me know. :)

Reb said...

It sounds like you have so much fun on your walks with Benny, in spite of glare ice and blizzard conditions. Oh, sorry, I meant to say, it sounds like Benny has so much fun - silly me!

Frank Baron said...

Actually Reb, we both do but don't tell anyone. Don't wanna mess with my curmudgeonly image. ;)

Moby Dick said...

You can post photos too. Click the little blue box. It is pretty amazing but you get used to it after a while.

Frank Baron said...

Hi Al. Yep, I post photos now and then too. Thanks for dropping by. :)

Kappa no He said...

A wise man once told me that it is a sign of how young one is if one falls while walking a dog and is able to stand back up, unhurt. And you did it twice (^-~)/ *wink*

Frank Baron said...

Was that wise man me?


Mark said...

I've had lot's of dogs including dog teams, which are fun, and useful depending on where you live. Now all they mean is an annoyance from neighbors who own them and subject the neighborhood to their lack of attention.

Hope you are well Frank. I write novels now. It's a whole different animal. Mine even have fish in them. I still don't care what Jenna Glatzer thinks.

Frank Baron said...

Hi Mark. Thanks for dropping by. Good luck with the novels.

Crabby McSlacker said...

It's wonderful to experience such a beautiful, soulful, exuberant winter walk without personally having to fall on my ass. Twice.

Thanks for bringing us that.

Frank Baron said...

LOL Crabby. You're very welcome. ;)

Althea said...

I finally saw your comment on my blog...and I have duly updated :) I keep meaning to...Honestly!
Hope you're well...talk to you soon :)

Frank Baron said...

Okay Althea. I'll wander over soon and take a peek. :)