April 12, 2010

Pacing

We all walk at different speeds. Gretchen walks fast so I’ve learned to keep up. Tethered to her as I am for most of the day, if I don’t keep up I get a bit yanked and that’s never any fun. There are times she lets me meander and when it’s the weekend, I get to wander at my own leisure, but during work hours, we hoof it…or paw it, whichever the case may be.

But not all our clients have the same vigorous approach to walking. Nope, each client has his or her own unique pace, which can make for an interesting day.

And yes, the dog to the right is a new, short-term client. Her name is Zoe and I have yet to meet her, but apparently Zoe is so loving and kind, I’m going to go on a walk with her tomorrow.

But before I tell you more about Zoe and her walking pace, let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…for those of you are familiar with a certain musical!).

It began with an alarm. 5:50 this morning the radio came on and I must admit, I covered my eyes with my paws. We’ve been on Spring Break and while we certainly woke early, we didn’t wake as early as we did this morning. I groaned. I knew what was coming. We were going back to school.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I actually was kind of excited about it, but when the alarm went off, I realized what my excitement cost me — it cost me the chance to sleep in! But up I got and the day began. Breakfast, a walk, and then what do you know, I was in the classroom greeting the students who really missed me.

We’re starting a new book in class and so I laid under the desk of one tired student (for I was tired, too) and listened to the story with interest. As a dog-writer, I’m always curious as to how other writers put a story together and this one I kind of like. It has spunk. Not sure if my stories have spunk, but maybe that’s a technique I should work on!

After the story, Gretchen took me home. I was happy about that because I needed a nap after getting up so early. She headed off to see Rosie and Tyson who, much like a well told story, had spunk! They’d had a canine weekend visitor, Kazi, and apparently the sleep over put the two siblings in a good mood. Hard to tell from the photos, but they walked briskly along the ridge and to the Bradner Gardens.

Normally, when Rosie and Tyson walk together it’s always a little brisk. Tyson is always on the look out and Rosie is always watching Tyson. When Gretchen walks Rosie by herself, the walk is never as brisk because Rosie LOVES to stop and smell and leave a little mark. But when Tyson is around, Rosie is more interested in whatever Tyson is interested in and that boy is mostly interested in getting a move on!

Of course, it’s always funny to see who walks fast or slow and when they move fast or slow. Rosie usually walks slowly at the start of a walk and then walks much more energetically when she’s heading home. Tyson walks a steady pace, unless he sees a cat, and then all bets are off. He stares and fixates and Gretchen does her best to distract him with a treat.

Now since I haven’t walked with Zoe, I have to rely on Gretchen’s observations. First you should know that Zoe had knee surgery. She normally goes with our friend, Maureen of Mo’s Dog Walking in her van to the dog park and there Zoe gets to run and romp at any old pace she pleases. But because of the healing knee, Zoe has to be on leash walks for awhile and that’s why we are walking her (thanks for the referral, Maureen!).

Zoe is apparently a happy dog. She was thrilled when Gretchen showed up today and waited patiently while Gretchen leashed her up. And off they went. At first Gretchen thought Zoe was going to be a rapid walker pulling her large though shapely Bernese Mountain dog body down the road. But Zoe was very respectful on the leash and while she trotted up ahead on occasion, she mostly sauntered right beside Gretchen and then stopped to sniff and smell the trail at her feet.

She sniffed and smelled a lot, but since Gretchen is just getting to know her, she thought she’d let Zoe set the pace. Eventually, Zoe got into the walk and while she wasn’t brisk, she certainly did a good job keeping up with Gretchen who wasn’t in full-throttle, but wasn’t moseying along either.

And Zoe LOVED having her picture taken. Gretchen laughed every time she tried to get a photo of Ms. Zoe, which made Zoe laugh and she’d toss back her head just slightly making almost every picture have a bit of a head tilt. Apparently, it was quite comical.

Zoe, it appears, was involved in some family painting, though for she had flecks of paint on her head, tail, and parts of her body. I think Zoe likes to be involved with whatever is happening, but I’ll find out more tomorrow when I meet her. I wonder how fast she’ll walk when I’m there?

After Zoe, Gretchen came to pick me up and we walked over to Gemma’s house. Now Gemma’s pace, as you might imagine, is frenetic. She only walks in a straight line if there’s a squirrel, the possibility of meeting another dog, or if we are a block from Saber’s house. All the rest of the time, she zig-zags and spins putting callouses on Gretchen’s hands and making me dizzy.

And she weaves…back and forth, back and forth trying to scope out every possibility before her. When we round the corner to Saber’s house, she stops weaving and pulls like a 20-mule team to get to Saber’s house. That’s exactly what she did today and Gretchen and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. True love. What are you gonna do?

Now the distance between Saber’s house and the tennis courts is maybe two blocks and yet when those two lovebirds see each other, it takes us about four blocks of weaving and zig-zagging to get there. They constantly bump into each other and Gemma, as only Gemma can do, grabs at Saber’s neck and then slams her back end up against him in an interesting invitation to play.

The game continues at the tennis courts.

It’s not that I get jealous, but I like to be involved in the playing as well and at times, those two can be so involved with each other they forget about me, so I do my best to make my presence known!

After some vigorous play time, the walk can commence with only a few bumps and nibbles along the way. Today Gretchen had Saber and Gemma walking side-by-side and let me tell you that was a workout for everyone!

We hopped in the car after that and headed over to Alice’s house. Alice was again happy to see me and since she’s getting to know her new neighborhood, we ventured off in a different direction than last week. I love getting to smell around a new neighborhood and today both Alice I had our noses to the ground. Of course, that’s nothing new for Alice. She LOVES to sniff and she pulls her body sideways on the end of the leash to make certain she can gather up all the scents before her.

We made our way down by the elementary school and then up a long, long, long set of stairs. Gretchen posed us there to try to illustrate the climb, but both Alice and I wanted to get back to the work of documenting the new neighborhood with our noses.

So up the stairs we climbed and then along the boulevard where Gretchen had walked with Zoe earlier in the day. How do I know that? I could smell them!

Once again we had our photo taken, but soon enough we were on our way sniffing out the path down past the pet store (it was closed for the day) and the coffee shop back home to Alice’s house.

The final walk of the day was with Oshi and Perrito. They were happy to see us and we noticed that they had on their old harnesses. Their new ones, if you remember, kept them from pulling, which I guess is a good thing except that Gretchen had to pull them instead. Since the point of our work is to exercise the clients, we were kind of happy to see the old harnesses on and Oshi and Perrito didn’t let us down — they raced out ahead as we made our way up the street and over to the park.

I overheard Gretchen on the phone the other day with Oshi and Perrito’s mother. Apparently they’re do for a grooming. Ya think?

Does it seem like Monday was a bit busier than usual? Yes, it was but I kind of liked the changes — it made for an interesting day and it was fun to see how every handled the paces!

Until tomorrow,

Rubin

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