Friday, February 5, 2010

What a Difference a Dog Makes

I hate the hill, it hates me back. When I start my walk, I look up at the top and I dread what the next 35 minutes will bring. By the time I get to the top, by back will be tightened up, I will be very out of breath, my knee will be sore and I will have the walk down to look forward to.

I have to drive to the hill, as I personally cannot afford to live there and it is more than five miles from my home. Although it is not a gated community, it should be. There are several "neighborhoods" on the hill, many with large houses and million dollar views. There are a few members of the K.B.F.P.D. that live in one of the lower neighborhoods. One is married to a deputy district attorney, the other has the first dollar he ever made buried in his back yard. Neither has a view.

I chose this hill because it has the steepest long, paved road near my home and though I prefer to use one of several nature preserves in the area, during the winter, mud precludes their use.

Although I don't do the hill as often as I should, I do it often enough that I see some of the same people on the road, either driving or walking by. I usually make eye contact with them and issue some form of greeting. A "good morning", "How ya doin?" or "I'm dying, call me a cab" is usually met with minimal eye contact and a muted reply.

I don't know whether its the orange sweatshirt I wear (a souvenir from a fire we had at the county jail), the ratty blue K.B.F.P.D. sweatpants, or my generally foul appearance and demeanor, but I really don't fit in with the residents of the hill. Somehow, they can tell that I am a trespasser and they act accordingly. That is until yesterday.

On a whim, I grabbed Sydney, our evil middle dog, and threw her in the jeep as I left to take #2 son to school. After dropping #2 off, we went to the hill. I parked the jeep in my usual spot, hooked Syd up and started up the grade.

The climb starts gradually for about 10 minutes, than actually descends for a few minutes before starting the steepest part of the climb for another 10. Syd was ecstatic about being along for the hike, she initially tugged against the leash and literally jumped for joy. After 20 minutes or so, she walked as she should, staying right next to me. Another ten minutes and she was asking me to pick her up. Sydney, evil as she is, happens to be our smallest dog. Her legs are only 5 inches long.

That's her, the one with the guilty look on her face, the one in the middle.

As we walked, I was surprised at the number of people who waved to me as we lumbered up the hill. People who previously ignored me as I labored up the grade now acknowledged my existence. Several people who live near the top even tried to engage me in conversation. As I was moving so much air, it was my turn to provide a minimal response. It was a remarkable outreach from the hill dwellers, I felt honored.

I am quite sure it was the presence of Sydney that evoked this crossing of cultural barriers. Somehow, her presence softened the harsh image of my scowling, sweating face and my orange and blue sweats as we strode up the hill. 

Either that or the sight of the large, simian life-form walking such a tiny dog provided enough comedy to overcome the fear that my appearance evokes. I'll take it either way.

Between the new friendliness of the hill dwellers and Sydney's presence making the hike less tedious, I will be taking her again. I would like to take Buster (the one on the right, I love that damn dog) but he gets car sick and pukes in my jeep after two blocks. Molly (the one on the left) is a little too old for a walk of that length and elevation gain, so Evil Sydney it is.

Apparently, all it takes is the presence of a two year old wiener dog to get people to drop their guard. We are all probably lucky that the likes of Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahlmer and  John Wayne Gacey didn't know this secret, their tallies would likely have been much higher.

So if you happen to see a fearsome life form clad in mis-matched sweats and walking an adorable, tiny dog - it's either me or a potential serial killer. If I were you, I would run either way. Although I am not evil, the little wiener dog is.

Thanks for reading,


  1. I am a dog person, what's your definition of evil? I took care of a yellow lab that ate a whole 'dura' log, 2 lbs of brown sugar and ripped a flour bags to shreads (and played in it!) all in one afternoon. That's evil!
    If you are kind enough to do that hike with any dog, despite your appearance, you are a good person-despite the dog.

  2. Oh I don't know Max, maybe it's her using the chair to get on my desk, getting my new shades and hauling them to the floor where she and Buster can take turns chewing on them. Maybe, it's her tormenting the other two dogs then getting under the ottoman where they can't reach her. Maybe, it's her digging up the back yard to retrieve things she has hidden in the past or maybe it's that she's so damn cute that I haven't the heart to sell her on e-bay and ship her through the mail.

    Any way you look at it, she is evil.

  3. last dog was a 104-lb Rottweiler. She'd as soon roll on her back for a belly rub as bite you, but people used to cross the street to avoid me when we walked. My inner curmudgeon never seemed to mind. :)

  4. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    I, too, am most fearsome to all but evil pets. My boycat has learned no scratching the sofa. He knows the words 'time out'. He has ruined my sofa on the installment plan. Each time he scrapes a little more upholstery off, he walks to the bathroom and allows me to lock him inside to pay out the latest depredation. perhaps it is his mission, or calling, or act of conscience.

    Girlcat just stares at me. You mean me? These tiny things? Those tiny things are needle-sharp.

    Oh, how I clip and snip. Evil mom!

    Clearly I am also a dog person, but without dogs. They are not allowed in my building. I envy you.

    Ann T.

  5. Aw, and I left out the part where I think they're all three cute as buttons. Sydney's worn them out, has she?

    Ann T.

  6. Ann T - Ohhh yeahh. There is a reason Buster looks annoyed

  7. Took you this long to realize that?
    Do you think in over 3 years on the road anyone has ever asked me to take my photo? NO... and NO... NEVER. It is always... him. The dog! "Hey good looking..." Heu cutie... " Who me as I always (still with hope) turn around, it is always for him...
    But, unconditional Love? Hey... they deserve the attention. Have fun going up that Hill now... it will be.
    Be well... Ara & Spirit