Walking someone else's dog is a bit like test driving a new car, one in which all the bells and whistles really jump out at you and make you wish yours was a little flashier or handled better on tight curves. A friend of mine has gone to Vegas for a few days and left me in charge of Riley, her eight-year old, big, sloppy-faced lug of a Golden. Duncan and Rileyy have spent time together in the past (exactly three years ago this week, in fact), when Heather left town and Riley spent a weekend with us. Duncan was still quite young, barely six months old and quite impressionable, so Riley, an older wiser dog, spent most of those three long days teaching Duncan all the bad habits I spent over a year trying to eradicate: propping himself up on the counter to sniff for food, barking at each and every person who walks by, chasing cats, that sort of thing.
Riley, everyone's best pal, is one of the kindest, happiest dogs I've ever had the pleasure of spending time with and I love him immensely. His face has whitened considerably, and now, where his big beaming Golden nose and eyes once were I get to kiss an enormous heart-shaped white nose.
The best thing about Riley is that he really knows how to walk. He doesn't tug, is willing to go wherever he's led and wags his tail the entire time. Duncan, in contrast, is all over the place, back and forth across the path, sometimes stopping for five minutes at a time to sniff one place, a tall clump of grass or the base of a lamp post. I could walk Riley for days and never stumble over him and never utter the words, "Leave it," which I say quite often to Dunc.
One thing I do enjoy about Duncan, however, is the clean-up. Since putting him on a raw diet last March, his Big Jobs have actually become quite small, like mouse poops on steroids. Riley, on the other hand, who lives on kibble (which is the dog equivalent of Frosted Flakes), has very Big Jobs which are not very solid and quite... fragrant. Cleaning up after Duncan is a quick and painless process and I don't need to breathe through my mouth at all.
I finally took Duncan over to Heather's to join Riley and I on a walk through their neighborhood and they took to each other like old friends. Riley is much larger than Duncan and tried to dominate him a few times, which Duncan readily let the old boy know was not acceptable, but other than that they got along fine.Several times over the past year Ken and I have daydreamed about adding a second puppy to our family, a little sister for Roo to teach and mold, but this weekend has reminded me that sometimes a good daydream is best left alone and not made into reality. Besides, I love my Dunc too much to share right now.