Monday, April 7, 2008

Independence

Sometimes while walking Duncan I get the feeling I'm playing the role of the parent to the embarrassed and annoyed child. I'll be enjoying a perfectly lovely walk, whistling as I go, looking at the trees and the new buds which are swelling up nicely, watching the progress of all the flowers whose names I haven't learned or can't remember and talking with him as I occasionally do––asking little questions like, "Ooo! There's a stick! Is that a good stick?" or "Wanna go chase a squirrel?" or "This looks like a good spot. Do you need to pee?" those kind of things) and I notice he starts pulling further and further away from me––three feet, four feet––until eventually we're walking almost directly across from one another, the leash stretched as far as it can reach. Sometimes he won't acknowledge I'm even there. When I reach down and scritch behind his ears or pat him affectionately on the rump he'll actually skip right past me, practically ducking under and away from my hand. I smile and think of those days back in junior high when I was young and thought I'd figured it all out even though my mother still drove me to school each morning. She'd pull right up in front of the building and I'd give her a quick peck before I got out of the car. Although I never actually recoiled I was very aware of all the eyes potentially watching and as I climbed those long steps in front of Franklin Junior High I waited for someone, one of the older, cooler kids perhaps, to say something, make some comment, fearful that if they did that would be the end of it, that I'd have to shun my own mother to save my reputation.

I don't mind Duncan's occasional independent streaks. They make me smile and I simply drop the leash and watch as he fumbles about for a bit trying to get his bearing without the familiar pressure of my grip to hold him steady or to pull away from. He may think he's tough on his own, but I know better. Just this morning as I went outside to start my car and wipe away the snow which fell while we slept, I took him out with me. I left him in the front yard to sniff out a good potty spot and pulled the car up close to the building. Duncan was sitting nervously by the breezeway, a look on his face like a child frightened of being left alone. When I climbed out of the car and walked with him back to our door, he jumped all over me, whined and clutched my wrist between his teeth as if to say, "Don't ever do that again! You scared me to death."

I could no more leave him than I could my arm. In fact the arm would probably be easier.

3 comments:

Lori said...

Maybe he's not trying to be independent... he's just very busy and concentrating on something of supreme canine importance? And I agree about the arm. I'd give up one of mine in an instant if I could have Ripley back!

Curt Rogers said...

Lori,

I'd really like to hear about Ripley. I know it's difficult to write about and reflect so slowly on a loss, but Rip seems incredibly important to you. I'd love to hear stories some time on your great blog, www.fermentedfur.blogspot.com. No pressure, but I look forward to it.

2ndwednesday said...

That picture is so Charlie!