Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bad Habits and New Friends

I have made a rookie mistake and have allowed Duncan to develop a bad habit, which, it turns out, proves that people are as easily trained as their dog companions.

As the weather has sweetened Duncan has taken longer and longer each morning to tend to his business and as a result I arrive at work later and later. It finally dawned on me that, in a sense, I've been "punishing" him for positive behavior by taking him inside just after he's completed a Big Job. He is a dog who loves to be outside and is not particular about the season or condition. He is just as happy rolling and snorting in the grass as he is sliding across snow and ice. Sometimes, when I'm relaxing in the living room with a cup of tea and a good book––I'm just starting The Shadow of the Wind––or listening to Big Head Todd and the Monsters on the stereo, I can glance up my red boy, sitting in front of the sliding glass doors, and feel my heart break at his longing to be outside. It's the feeling that drove me to suggest we buy a house–– which nearly ended in disaster––so he could have his own yard to run in. And now, three years later, when that dream is a long way off, I indulge him as often as I can, taking him out with me on the patio or even if I have to run to my car to grab something I've forgotten. He goes with me often because of the guilt I feel if I leave him behind.

Our morning ritual has turned unpleasant for the both of us, with Duncan dillying and dallying and taking his sweet time exploring every new scent, investigating every possible blade of grass while I stand over him, arms crossed impatiently and curse down at him in an effort to get him to poop. Poop now! Now! Poop, I say. Poop now! No one could perform under those conditions and so he takes his time, prolonging his stay outside, basking in whatever color sky or kind of weather the universe has tossed our way because he knows the second he's done and I've scooped it up in my handy green baggy he'll be whisked back inside where he'll sit and brood in the window watching the world pass by until I come home nine hours later.

Bad Papa! Bad! Bad! Bad!

And so we've begun a new strategy. We don't walk in the morning. We stand in one place and wait for the transaction to be completed. Only then do we walk. And this morning we met up with Toby (and his companion, whose name I not only don't know but haven't bothered to ask. I can name most of the dogs here and in the park but with the exception of Melissa, none of their guardians). Toby is a Golden, the same age as Duncan, who from a distance, looks exactly like him. Duncan's hair is a little more coarse and has more wave to it, but the color is spot on. Duncan and Toby took to each other like brothers, and while Toby's dad and I stood around and talked about The Ponds and the dog park at Chatfield Reservoir, they scampered and sprang back and forth like fawns in the high grass. I'm hoping we can make this a regular morning occurrence because I'm sure we'd break this nasty habit in no time at all.*Okay, so it's not the best picture of Toby and Duncan, caught as they are in a rather awkward moment, but it's the only one I could manage with my cell phone. I hope there will be more soon.


caboval said...

I know exactly what youre talking about. I live in a townhouse and no yard and Joey just longs to be outside! It was raining the other day and he got the puppy zooms and ran around like it was Christmas or something. I didnt stop him because it was a sheer joy moment for both of us. I thought of my mom who passed of cancer that what she would say is embrace the rain no umbrella? Then stick out your tonque and taste life! So we proceeded to both get soaked and we were loving life at that moment!

Sue said...

Curt, I loved this post! So easy to picture you out there, arms crossed, getting antsy while Duncan takes his time, meandering along, looking for just the right spot for the big job. Great picture too! Hey, it is what it is, and that's what they do... the "sniffey" didn't seem to mind what the "sniffer" was doing. Good boy!

NodakJack said...

Speaking as the father of the blogger, I remember a few times when he was a pup that he wouldn't go poop on command.
What goes around....
It's Karma Curt.

traci said...

I'm so excited you're starting "Shadow of the Wind". I hope it doesn't disappoint.

I find the dogs need the walk to "work it out", ya know? Standing there waiting wouldn't do much good for me I'm afraid.