Izzy and I have established a routine: 5 walks each day, sometimes one more on the weekend. We leave the house around 6-6:15 AM, often in time to watch the sun rise, like this morning. A fairly banal sunrise today, but the sky did pinken a little, which always raises my spirits. That’s the long walk of the day. The streets in Uptown Roxboro are quiet, except for the trash truck making its rounds mid-week. We can count on seeing the retired school teacher who sits on his porch smoking his morning cigarette, as well as the old Black lady who lives in the group home up the street and also smokes nonstop. Sometimes we run into a couple of our dog friends: Peaches, the female boxer who does a GI Joe, belly-to-the-ground when she sees Izzy, or the new little Terrier who belongs to the retired school teacher’s wife (and is still a puppy so rather crazy).
We come back to the house and Izzy lies on the guest bed in my office (see the pic) until I get out of the shower, then we go out again for a quick walk up the street, one last pee before I go to work. Izzy always knows when I’m ready to go and races me to the door for that brief walk.
Then I’m home for lunch. He has slept all morning so is ready and waiting at the back door, his nose pressed up against the glass. He bops around, wagging his tail, tongue hanging out, ready to walk. We do a quick walk up the street, and the energy level is definitely different than our early morning walk. I eat my lunch, he sleeps on the rug and watches me, and he knows that when I go to the door this time, I’m gone.
After work is another long walk, and this one is the busiest. We sometimes pick up my next door neighbor/friend, Deb, and we talk as we walk. Izzy is actively sniffing all the other dogs that have recently left their scents on the street and most of the time, we meet one of them. Last night was one of those meetings, and it didn’t go well.
One of our favorite dogs was an old Shipperneke that had been the long-time companion of a kindly 80-something gentleman who’d been through several strokes. The dog was blind, fat, and slow, but she loved seeing Izzy, and her ‘dad’ and I talked about the dogs, the weather, and his health whenever we met on the sidewalk. When Lacey, the Shipperneke, passed over the rainbow bridge, the old man was bereft. For a long time, I didn’t see him, then one day, we passed his son on the sidewalk with a new dog: a young, reddish, Pitbull mix with lots of energy.
The old man still walks with a cane but now he has his “new girl” to accompany him. Unfortunately, she’s got way too much energy and no manners whatsoever. I worry that she’s going to make him fall one of these days. Last night when we came up to them on the sidewalk, Izzy was excited to see his new friend. She sniffed him, then turned and suddenly, she bared her teeth, growled and lunged. Though she’s a small pittie, she’s strong and it took all the old man’s strength to hold her back.
“I think we’d better go the other way,” I told him, as he struggled to hold onto his dog.
Izzy looked from the dog to me and pranced from one foot to the other, as if confused.
Deb, Izzy and I retraced our steps, with Deb and I looking over our shoulder at the old man and the now frantic dog.
“She needs exercise and training,” I told Deb. “He’s never going to be able to handle her unless she learns how to behave.”
And as I said that, I realized that Izzy, who had once had aggression issues, was now acting like the model dog.
As Cesar Millan says, once you master the walk, you master the dog. I agree!