Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Walking the Dogs
Walking Ernie and Ruby is an exercise in patience.
When I walk alone, I prefer to keep up a brisk pace, to get my blood pumping and gain some cardiovascular benefit. Ernie and Ruby like to saunter, sniffing at every lamppost and spot on the sidewalk, quickly and illicitly snorfing up any edible substance left by a passerby. (When I say edible, I use the term loosely.)
These days, their sauntering is even slower than usual. In her younger years, Ruby insisted on being in front of the "pack," blazing the trail. Nowadays she usually brings up the rear, and I allow her to set the pace. If she stops, we all stop.
I don't take them far. We're scared to risk Ruby's weak heart beyond a couple of blocks. Even Ernie gets tired in that short distance, his head hanging low, a despondent thread of drool decorating his mouth and collecting stray bits of street detritus.
Their advanced age doesn't prevent them from driving me crazy, though. Sometimes all the sniffing and pausing, the agonizing 30 minutes it can take to circumnavigate a single city block, makes me nuts. (I was especially cranky Sunday and Monday, when I mistakenly got up at 4 a.m. I thought it was 5 a.m., but the UK left Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, and I'd failed to reset the bedside clock!)
Occasionally I unthinkingly jerk the leash to snap their noses away from a particularly interesting smell. Shocked at my own behavior, I remind myself that they're the equivalent of octogenarians -- at least.
Besides, to them, a walk is not just a walk. It's their single opportunity to interact with the world beyond our apartment, with other dogs, with new and different smells, with birds and blowing leaves. It's almost sad, really.
So, yes. An exercise in patience. An opportunity to practice breathing and gentleness and generosity, and to examine my own annoyed, urgent impulses. After all, where am I trying to go so quickly?
(Photo: South Kensington, on Friday.)