Friday, October 12, 2007


"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."
(Edward Hoagland)

There's no reasoning with a dog. And once you make a promise to him, you should stick to it. He'll love you either way, but if you break your promise and can sleep through the night, you're a rotten person and shouldn't be allowed to sleep again until you've it made right.

As usual I came home exhausted. It's been a tough two days for me, both personally and professionally, and when that happens all I want to do–if for only an hour–is sleep. Normally I don't allow myself the luxury until after Duncan has had his walk. But tonight my arms felt too long, my feet too heavy and my back slightly broken. It was all I could do to put him on the leash, grab his stick and walk him down to The Glen for a few minutes of potty and playtime.

He knew something was up when we walked right past the gate onto Bowles and crossed the parking lot to our favorite little nook. He actually stopped and looked up at me, his eyebrows raised in that way of his that says he doubts me but is willing to give me a chance to explain myself. This from a dog.

"Dunc," I started, pulling on the leash to get him out of the middle of the road. "Papa is tired. Let's just play here for a while and then we'll go for a walk later, when it's dark the park is all ours." He agreed, begrudgingly, but didn't make it easy on me. We walked down under the trees into the bowl and in one movement I took him off-leash, tossed the stick and ambled up the hill to sit in the spot that overlooks the golf course, the other apartments and the road. Duncan chased after the stick but wouldn't bring it back to me. Instead he plopped himself down twenty yards away and chewed happily on the stick, his eyes never leaving me, insisting that I come to him. You can't play fetch unless you have something to throw so I went to him, retrieved the stick and tossed it again. He merrily sprinted down the hill and back up again, but this time he threw himself down in the spot I'd previously occupied, twenty yards away. Back and forth we went, my dog mocking me and forcing me to chase him and play to his whims rather than the other way around.

After thirty minutes of this we returned home with the promise that we'd go out later and even though I was able to steal an hour of shut-eye, Duncan made his displeasure known; he crawled under the bed and sighed loudly over and over. When the sighing didn't force me up and back outside he resorted to soft little, feathery whines, and then frustrated growls of boredom. When I finally got up and poured myself a vodka and passion fruit juice he forced the issue again by setting up camp in front of the door and stared at his leash. And that's where he stayed for nearly ten minutes, my pouting child, staring at his leash.

When I finally took him out he pranced and trotted victoriously but not quite boastful. He did not rub my defeat in my face. That's what unconditional love really means. I could not reason with him so he reasoned with me, in his own dog-like fashion.

No comments: