Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things Remembered

There are a plethora of things I struggle to remember, such as the four constantly changing user-names and passwords assigned to me at work, or the combination of the safe, or even my own phone number, but Duncan, my genius dog, remembers each and every place he's every spotted a rabbit, chased a squirrel or found a tennis ball.

Our walks--through the park, down Leawood, or even around the lake--have become an exercise in memory as Duncan forces me to wait while he inspects the hedges in the yard in front of the apartment, or the lumpy lawn just off the patio behind Hopps Bar and Grill. There are easily ten different spots at the edge of the lake in front of the retirement community which demand his attention, and the entirety of the square cinder block management office at the park where the rabbits have set up a home base of sorts. First we sneak down on them from the side of Rebel Hill, yellowed and crumbling with slowly drying mud. Then we pace the edge of the chain-link fence where they roost on the safe side, their backs turned to us in feigned indifference, an act which drives Roo crazy, eliciting whines and pants and the occasional leap forward, all which cause them to rocket under a nearby shed or parked golf cart. Once the herd has been scattered he pulls me around the side and front of the building, sometimes right up to the office door where rabbits been known to crouch in the bushes like breathing rocks. I have lost track of the number of yards in Leawood where Duncan has hunted, but our constant exploration of those places has earned us familiar waves from the home-owners, many of whom remember his name. "Hello, Duncan," they call, holding their hands out for his inspection. "I haven't seen any rabbits today, but come back tomorrow!" they encourage him, running their fingers through the long curls on his back and patting his hind end as he moves on to the next hedge row. He pauses at countless trees in search of a squirrel he once chased up its trunk and scours the edge of the baseball diamonds for the balls which sometimes roll away and are forgotten. Once, a few months ago he pulled me along the fence where he'd once sniffed out the brightest green tennis ball in his collection only to find a discarded athletic cup lurking under the dead leaves. There is very little that escapes his attention and even less that slips out of his head.

Except for one thing. While I still struggle with my address he has difficulty remembering we live on the third floor. He's content to climb one flight of stairs and head to the first apartment on his left. It takes a great deal of coaching to convince him he has one more set of stairs to go and it's never accomplished without a disapproving, furrowed brow sort of side glance and a deep, heavy sigh before he follows after me.

It's been a month, and most walks around the complex inevitably take us past our old apartment, which has been painted, carpeted, refurbished and finally looks ready for new tenants. I try to pass by without reflecting too hard on the changes we've been through as of late but Duncan, Finder of Rabbits, Squirrels and Balls, always leads us up the walk, down the breezeway and to our old front door, where he pauses as though waiting for me to remove his leash and guide him inside.

He never forgets.


Ruby's Mum said...

Yes, dogs' memories are truly amazing aren't they? Ruby is the same with all the places she has spotted a rabbit, and she's the same if someone once had a dog treat in their pocket, no matter how long ago. I watched a friend's dog for 6 months one winter while he went to India. He decided it was best to sneak away while we were out on a walk from another friend's house. When we got back, he had left. Wolf searched for him every time we visited the friend that winter. It broke my heart every time.

Greg said...

Memories are such interesting things. Sweet and wonderful, or, awful, scary and painful little bombs of emotion waiting to burst on us anew as we stumble across them again and again.

How grateful I would be some days, if they were only the memories of bunnies and tennis balls and...ewww...old athletic cups.

Good luck climbing the stairs. ;)

CJ/Rick said...

Our loving canines never cease to amaze and amuse. Just as you do Curt.

David said...

I am certain that you will get through this difficult time. Anyone who uses the word "plethora" can get through anything. (You have considered becoming a writer, haven't you?)

Kevi said...

I am with David, my other best friend. You should write.