Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ten Thousand Reps

Thinking of the things I have done, repeated, ten thousand times. OK, "twelve-ounce curls," saying the wrong thing, getting into the longest line, maybe.

But this morning I concluded that I had walked the golden retriever, Baron, something like ten thousand times. He celebrated his tenth birthday a few days ago (with a can of tuna, of course) and it occurred to me that his life at that time was 3,650 days long...sort of a math wizard, eh?

Seems that dogs, like humans, have quirks and this dog has more than a few. One is that he is highly reluctant, almost totally unwilling, to poop in his own yard. Don't know how this got started or why. We are grateful that he is so highly house-trained, but it gives him a legitimate excuse to beg for a walk, which he does with convincing sincerity and quite a bit of success. And, as Jerry says, I always pick up after him when somebody is looking. There is the walk at 0600 which is understandable, there is the walk last thing in the evening which is a good precaution, and there is at least one, often more walks during the day. Add 'em up, that is probably more than ten thousand.

This dog has been with people nearly 24/7 since he was eight weeks old. We took him to work every day except for a period of about a year when we couldn't and he would have to settle for a neighbor taking him at noon. But then there was the "coming home walk" and the "evening walk" to go along with the "rise and shine walk." He traveled with us for 5,000 miles on a swing through the western half of the US, caught kennel cough in San Francisco which is about the only serious ailment he has had. Never neutered, so he doesn't have a weight problem and, in fact, is sort of skinny but well-muscled. We drove back and forth from Portland to KC because we were unwilling to dope him up and crate him for flight.

I should take the time to write some observations and stories about this dog because he chose us at a time when all the kids were either out of the house or about to leave. His pack mates are the two youngest boys, who he greets with absolute crazy exuberance when they visit even though he seems to pity their pinky skin without fur, their stunted nose skills and inability to run very fast.

A neighbor in Kansas City once mentioned that they often watched us walk and thought that the dog "read my thoughts." Although I use a leash, it really isn't needed; just the law, and if there are other dogs in the area, they often are not very well-trained. Rain or snow, the cold suits him best, he could do without the really hot days. We often marveled at his athleticism when he was in his prime, and everyone remarks about the size of his paws.

This seems to be one of his first lifetimes as a dog--he doesn't have some of the ordinary skills one would expect, like being able to remove a sandbur from his paw. At age ten, he is probably pretty similar in age to me at age 68, his face is getting really grey and it will only take three years for him to be in his "'90's." We make quite a pair these days as we walk, each of us limping a bit, a lot slower than the days when I would throw the baseball over and over on the playground.

We read a lot, but are reluctant to read books about dogs because we know how they will end. We know how this chapter of our lives will end, too, and it will be with gratitude for a life well-lived and service well-provided. Let's just keep him for a few more walks.

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