Friday, September 14, 2007

Walk-o-rama in Squirrel City, but first..

... First, some clarifications.

The novel I'm excerpting (hmmm, Mr. Spellcheck see if that's a word!) is a work in progress, and is not available yet. But, if you just happen to know any big time fancy literary agents by all means do let them know I'm available for representation! Or if you happen to be a close friend of Oprah, or Garrison Keillor... oh shoot, I fainted again. Dear Bill encourages, "You have to think it is possible, for it to come true." I love dear Bill.

This blog is spreading like wildfire, and I have you, dear readers, to thank! Thank you thank you thank you! Apparently you are sharing the address with your friends and your lists and your groups and it is working!

OK, back to the good stuff!

Walk-o-rama in Squirrel City

It is up to me to walk all of the nine dogs this morning. Bill has to go in for some early morning blood tests and he can't have coffee, so he's not going to walk his usual two.

This arrangement does not please Delia, who adopted Bill as her Own Human, and the affront of his early morning departure, coupled with the poor substitution of me as her walking companion is nearly too much. To make it even worse, she has to go on the second walk. Humph! Pee-yew to the Inferior Human.

I've been walking the grownups in pairs, although the last walk includes the two yearlings plus Sam I Am. There was a time, back on the farm, when I walked all eight, plus (Saint) Opie the big old black lab, at once. But that was at the farm, and if they took off and dragged my well-padded butt across some plowed field in pursuit of deer, rabbits, ground hogs, or fox, we might emerge bruised and battered, but at least we would emerge. Here, in the city, if they drag me into the street, and there's a truck coming, well it's not a pretty picture.

And then there's the noise factor. We feel compelled to sound the GREAT VERMIN ALERT at the sighting of any squirrel, evil horrible cat, or hairy dog, and we've been known to be fooled by Blowing Trash. And we can make some noise. I have been training them to be quiet by carrying pockets full of treats. If they see any of the Great Vermin subspecies, and they don't bark, they get a treat. It's worked better than any other method I have tried. The 'head bop' method simply taught them to duck while they screamed. And lordy it was a mess when I forgot I had the poop bag in my hand and I bopped Luciano on the head and the poop bag exploded. That was not a good method. Walking in smaller groups greatly decreases the noise factor, and a pair of dogs doesn't get nearly as riled as a pack of nine.

I did decide to walk in threes this morning. Call me lazy. First three consisted of Giacomino, Maria, and Mama Pajama. The cumulative ages (not counting me) top thirty-six years. Thirteen and a half, twelve and more than a half, and ten and a half. That's a lot of dog years. In people years they would be ninety-three, ninety, and seventy-three. In deference to Mama Pajama, we went around two blocks instead of one. On the last leg, a Stupid City Squirrel decided to jump out on the sidewalk ten feet in front of us. Ouch! (Instinct propels the dogs forward playing havoc with my decrepit shoulders.) Good dogs! They regain their brain function and turn to look for their no barking treats. Ouch! Mama Pajama likes a little blood gravy with hers: chomp. I am nonetheless delighted with their restraint.

Then a big treat. Neighbor Lorrie is out in her yard. Lorrie is one of Mama Pajama's Very Favorite People in the Whole World. Oh she wiggles and wags and grins, and praises me for having found Lorrie, and goes back to wagging her delight at Lorrie. Lorrie makes a great fuss over the little sweetheart, and then Lorrie and I catch up. I have no doubt that I missed the dogs' hints. Lorrie and I were talking away, and I'm quite certain that the dogs were trying to get my attention.

"You-hoooo??? Hello, idiot Human? Anyone home in la la land? Do you hear that? Do you have a single scent gland in your entire olfactory system? Ears, please?"

"Blah, blah, blah." I was talking to my friend in total oblivion.

So, Mama Pajama sounded the full GREAT VERMIN ALERT.

"Wow," said Lorrie, hands over her ears.

Once a month on the first Saturday at noon, since we live in Tornado country and have a nuclear plant next door, they test the Emergency Alert Siren System. (This can be quite disconcerting to people who have moved here from other parts and don't know it is a test.) The sirens can be heard for miles. They don't hold a candle to Mama Pajama's GREAT VERMIN ALERT.

"Oh, man!" cried Lorrie as blood from her ruptured eardrums trickled through her fingers. "She is loud!"

The Stupid City Squirrel hopped along the telephone wires overhead. I wished he would get electrocuted. (I'm sorry, but I really did.) Giacomino and Maria are head butting me for their treats, because they haven't made a sound. I am mortified as it is only 7:30 in the morning, and this is not at all neighborly.

"Later, Lorrie," I say, dragging the dogs the half a block home. Mama Pajama's eyes are shining; it's been a great morning for her, so far.

Next walk was Mama Pajama's brother Fat Charlie, and the much miffed Delia and her brother Luciano. "Well, it is high time," sniffs Delia. "Second group, indeed. Humph and grumble." But then we're out the gate and heading down the sidewalk and all is forgiven. And there are squirrels everywhere. What is it, National Torment Dogs Day in squirreldom? And I don't help matters. When I see a squirrel or cat as we walk along, I let out an involuntary gasp, usually coupled with an expletive. I can't help it. If the dogs haven't already seen the critter, my gasping and expleting sets them in a fit. They know what it means. In fact, you can sit in the TV room, amid somnolent dog bodies, and I can gasp an expletive and the entire pack will explode and run around looking for vermin. Then they realize they are in the TV room and I have played a joke on them and they shoot me "how could you" looks and try to find a better place to lie down than the one they just vacated.

But the three dogs were fantastic, and I managed to sing songs the whole time to distract myself from gasping and we did fine.

(to the tune of Home on the Range)
Oh give me a home where the squirrellies don't roam
And the sidewalks are all free from prey!
Where the cats stay inside
And the loose dogs all hide
And in peace we would walk everyday...
Only two and a half more miles to go. The third group. I stuffed my pockets full of Really Yummy Treats. I sang. First thing the neighbor's cat comes trotting down the sidewalk towards us. Gasp, expletive, BACK TO SINGING IN A SHOUT:


The dogs, along with the workers on the roof next door, look a little frightened of me. I'm a little frightened of me. I have no effect on the squirrels or cats, alas. We must have passed twenty of them. I passed out treat after treat, and I beamed at the dogs. Good dogs! Wonderful dogs! We pass a couple of hairy dogs and we don't make a sound. My nerves are frazzled to the point where I'm quite positive that you can see sparks flying out the top of my head, the ends of my fingers, and probably out my butt too, but the dogs, bless them, haven't screamed once.
And people say, "It's so nice you can walk with your lovely dogs. Isn't it a great way to relax?"


  1. Your writing is absolutelybloomin incredible!!! I love it.
    Dr. Doo Doo

  2. Oh my gosh! I don't blame you for only walking two or three at a time ... I have two beagles and when we first adopted our second boy I cried the first few walks with two! They were insane together. We've settled in nicely now.

    I am thrilled to death Barby from introduced her readers to you. I am in love with your writing style and will be a frequent visitor. Thank you for this gift!



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