Monday, October 5, 2009

Walking the dogs

Often I take Merlin by himself, but just as often I take four corgis, two carts, and a stroller.

The first challenge is getting everyone "hitched up." This means putting Merlin in a cart (Candy is usually already in his) and leashing up Jack and Janine. Jack wears an EZ-walk harness which is connected to a two-fer (coupler) and that snaps to Janine and to a leash. Sounds simple, but Jack is leaping around, barking, snapping (not aggressively, its just what he does) at Janine, Janine is barking, and Candy is barking.) Once everyone is finally leashed, the next challenge is to get out the door and lock the door behind us. This involves letting Jack and Janine go out on leash, letting Candy out off-leash so he can go down the steps, and pushing Merlin out far enough that I can, while still holding Jack and Janine, lock the door behind us. Then I let them go down the three steps, wheel the stroller down, and help Merlin down.

Now we head down our narrow walk to our hill. Too many steps to the street, so we take the steep lawn down. At the bottom we reconnoiter. Candy's leash in hand, Merlin's wrapped around the posts of his cart so I can grab it easily, Jack and Janine's looped over my hand so they can't easily bolt.

And off we go! Sometimes Merlin makes the decision as to which way but usually, when all of us go, I make it. Today we head up Van Ness towards the main road; four blocks there is a good walk for Merlin and there are no curbs as the road is at sidewalk level.

Now it is time for Merlin to stop and sniff and finally, when he finds the right spot, pee. We have to wait patiently. Usually Janine poops, too, early in the walk (and sometimes two or three more times.) Our progress is very slow during the part of the walk where Merlin walks. When he is alone with me I can speed him up with carrots, but in a group walk he brings up the rear.

Next, Janine has to find a place to roll. There are some beautiful green overwatered lawns on our route, and she likes to find a slightly odorous spot to take her roll. She has perfected the art of doing this while on a two-fer with Jack, who just waits patiently, his eyes peeled for the big three: squirrels, cats, and birds.

On we go. Jack and Janine hear a squirrel or even better, spy one, and both freeze, staring at it as if they think they can use their telekinetic powers to make it fall from the tree. If they see a kitty, they lunge. Kitties beware! Birds, Janine ignores, but Jack becomes intensely distracted as he watches them fly.

Candy, on the other hand, is enamored of one thing: people. He wants to be patted and admired. A walk is not complete without the chance to greet at least one stranger like an old friend.

All three are delighted if a corgi stalker appears and flags us down, because now they don't just get sedate pats, they are allowed to fling themselves on the friend (what corgi stalker can be a stranger?) and enjoy unlimited admiration.

All four dogs are also intent on finding lawn fudge, or kitty krispies. Enough said about that- we avoid several streets where the kitties apparently lack litter boxes or flower beds, and stay on the main street.

Somewhere around midway or near the three-quarter mark, Merlin fades, and is lifted into the stroller for the remainder of the walk. Jack is also tiring by now, and walks as slowly as possible in front of the stroller, getting bumped in the rear periodically as he fails to move. Non-plussed, he strolls along.

Finally back at our home, we climb the neighbors driveway to our lawn, and roll up to the front door. I unleash Candy and lift his cart back so he can climb the steps, unlock the door, and loop Jack and Janine's leash on a doorknob. I go back to the stroller and roll it up a board to the porch, the lock the brakes and lift Merlin out. Another walk is over!

No comments: