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Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Last Saturday began as an exceptional day for me. I normally have to work at least part of every weekend, but last Saturday, in honor of the Memorial Day weekend, I decided to give myself the day off.

I got up early anyway because I wanted to enjoy as many waking hours away from law practice as humanly possible. I fed my two Golden Retrievers, Melody and Rhythm, and headed out for our usual morning walk. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we walk to the nearby duck pond night and morning, to sniff the sniffs, walk up and down the hill, and see what the ducks are up to. Usually it’s relaxing to stand under the eucalyptus trees and watch the mallards paddle around while we look for ducklings. (Well, I look for ducklings. Melody and Rhythm are more interested in finding road kill.)

And for the first fifteen minutes of our Saturday morning walk, all was serene. But then, Controversy struck like lightning in the form of a Thin Blonde in one of those black velour track suits attributable to Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie before Rachel Zoe got hold of them. Thin Blonde came sauntering down the hill with a Starbuck’s cup in one hand and a dog leash in the other. Only the leash was not attached to her dog, a portly little brown and white bulldog. He was toddling along on his too-short-for-his body legs completely unleashed. He looked as if he was fixing to light out for the territory on his own.

Now, the pond is not set aside by the city fathers as a dog park. Dogs are welcome but only when they are on leashes, and there are at least two signs prominently displayed informing all of us of that requirement. Thin Blonde had just sauntered past the one at the top of the hill. Obviously oblivious.

Now as you’ve probably guessed, Melody and Rhythm obey the law. They are leashed at all times at the pond. There are lots of reasons for that decision, not the least of which is their safety. We have rattlesnakes in our area, and I want them close by me whenever we are in off-path, brushy country. But having them leashed is also courteous to everyone else who visits the pond. They can’t bound up to strangers (as they would love to do) and plant two big paws on their shoulders and give them a big dog kiss. They also can’t treat small children like puppies they can play with. Being leashed means they are required to have good manners when they are at the pond, and it also means we aren’t arrogantly occupying more space than we are entitled to. Other people can have their fair share of the pond and its surroundings dog-free when we are there. And off-leash dogs present problems for the rest of us who are obeying the law. Some of them are aggressive and pose a danger to other dogs. Some are just very playful so that Melody and Rhythm pull my arms out of the sockets trying to run after them. No matter what, an off-leash dog at the pond spells discomfort and trouble. And I try to avoid them and their humans whenever I can.

But no such luck on Saturday.

Thin Blonde looked at me and Melody and Rhythm as if we were creatures from Outer Space and drawled sarcastically (ok, Stephen King, it’s an adverb and you hate them BUT she was sarcastic), “Oh, do I need a leash?”

“Yes,” I said. “The ordinance is posted at the top and bottom of the hill.” And I pointed in the direction she had come and in the direction she was going.

“Well, you don’t have to be rude!”

And that’s when the morning was no longer exceptional. I hadn’t been rude; she had been because she’d gotten an answer she didn’t like. I’d been sucked instantly into a vortex of bad feeling where I didn’t want to be. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and get myself back into my exceptional Saturday mood.

But as I was about to turn and walk away with Melody and Rhythm, leaving her to mutter as she tried to attach the leash to Bulldog who clearly wasn’t having any of it, the situation escalated.

There are several regulars at the pond who make it a point of honor not to leash their dogs. They are quite aggressive about their right to ignore the city’s posted requirements. I avoid them whenever I can, but there are times when their dogs get too close to me or to mine, and I have to suggest politely that they get their pet under control. And of course that is the last thing one of them wants to hear because they are determined not to do that very thing. They usually launch the kind of ad hominum missiles Thin Blonde had just launched.

So just as I was preparing to leave Thin Blonde to her own devices, a large, large woman with perpetually greasy gray hair who lives in one of the houses that backs up to one side of the pond appeared with her Golden Retriever. Her Golden has never, ever visited the pond on the leash, and she is one of the more outspoken advocates of unleashed dogs. She proceeded, predictably, to attack me verbally and to tell Thin Blonde not to leash her dog.

It is silly to get invested in moments like that. I walked home trying to shake it off. None of us had gotten hurt. I’d done the right thing by my dogs who are very precious to me. And eventually the city will be out to enforce its ordinance. I understand they write pretty hefty tickets for off-leash dogs at the pond. Greasy hair lady will reap the karma she’s sown in the form of big fine. And more than likely Thin Blonde will probably never be back. She didn’t look as if she was from these parts. Or if she is, maybe the city will catch her eventually and make her take a crash course in READING. Or the fashion police might find her and sentence her to a reality TV session with Rachel Zoe, who would force her to give up the velour.

Rhythm is thinking about swimming.

Rhythm is thinking about swimming.

Our Goldens, Melody and Rhythm behaving themselves

Our Goldens, Melody and Rhythm behaving themselves

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