commuterchroniclesdbh

Driving and Biking in the Big City

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A dog walk is not a person walk

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When I got home from work today it was after a thunder-boomer that had dumped a few inches of rain on my ’burb and clogged my traffic for all 30 miles home from Houston. My Tucker-hound had been mostly housebound and certainly en-fenced all day and was ready for a change of scenery – no matter how hot and sticky his human would get. The waves of vapor were coming off the greenbelts and concrete streets like wintertime gutters in my Michigan suburbs, outside of Detroit.

As I looked back across the throbbing mist at the beginning of our outing, I felt a change in perspective that was new-dimensional. I decided to go with it. Go with Tucker. Let it be his walk, not mine.

Dog professionals say that hounds smell scents as distinctively as humans see colors. We see a rose stand out in a field, and he smells a rabbit from its morning trail. Tucker decides our path, sets our pace and stops and stops and stops along the way.

Now that I have aching knees from too much tennis and racquetball, I bike while he walks. He is on an extended leash because we are on the streets and greenbelts and not on the water-logged banks of the gully. Blue Streak is the perfect bike for this because it goes as slowly as Tucker. It has a wide seat for sitting and waiting while he sniffs down to the last scent from last year or maybe two years ago.

He pauses longest on the path to the park. Does he still smell our Patsy-girl, gone now for four months? How about Andy-dog from a few years ago? He wouldn’t even know ol’ Barney, the Dalmatian who walked those roads near Detroit as well as another neighborhood in Kingwood.Tucker on the hunt

The smells must be like photos in an album to Tucker. He is reminded of old friends who used to be his companions on this walk. We stop longest at the decorative logs where every four-legged friend leaves a calling card. He smells a rabbit, a stinky boy walking home from the pool and maybe a squirrel. He has the taste of squirrel in his mouth from last week when he caught two on consecutive days, leaving squirrel tail feathers in his mouth.

Experts say that the sense of smell is the most significantly linked to memory, and I wish I could sniff as powerfully as Tucker and call up a full blown memory of Patsy walking beside us. Her hound ghost would walk beside us and maybe we’d be joined even by Andy dog from my three-dog days. Those were wild and out of control walks. Andy was an incredible specimen of canine magnificence, strong and physical yet mild mannered and easy going. He would lull me into a smooth, relaxed walk only to jerk me, face down into the dirt when he spotted a cat under a car. He fooled me every time. Bloodied and bruised me many days.

Patsy also kept both Tucker and I on our heels wondering if we would be dragged into the bushes, attack some unsuspecting neighbor or make a mad, powerful dash for parts unknown. She was a mischief-maker, unlike Tucker who is so easy that I’m inclined to take over the walk and make it human. But I won’t. This is a dog walk and not a human walk.

I compare my sights to his smells and know we have absorbed just about everything possible in this mile-long, 30-minute walk. I see the deep green of the newly watered leaves and yet spot the moving lizard as it jumps from one thin trunk to a wider one. An orange butterfly catches my eye and a mushroom blooms from the earth. Tucker, on the scent, pauses at a bush to sniff and move deeper into the woods to sniff again. Could this be Romeo, the aptly named hound whose owner allows him to roam our neighborhood most nights? Now that Tucker and I walk the gully most evenings, we don’t see Romeo as frequently but we know he’s making his rounds.

We pass up the park where we hear kids shouting and playing and choose, instead, to take a singular path that backs up to few houses and gives us deep breaths of peace. Tucker trots counter clockwise on the roundabout – like my own preference when I’m not forced to obey traffic laws. He pauses once to look up at me with curiosity, and we discuss whether or not he needs water in this humidity. Of course, I have plenty and offer him some. He takes a little but then gestures that it’s time to go home.
In the end, the sweat drips into my eyes and blurs my vision again, reminding me of the heat that originally had altered my view. We are nearly home and I lean forward and unleash my powerful companion. I ride, he runs for home.

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Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

August 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm