Our walks were fraught with danger. One false move (and there were many) and I would end up injured. To be fair, I once broke my ankle playing hide-and-seek with Zeta. It was such a fun game. I’d toss a toy in the house, and then as she was running off to fetch it, I’d run off someplace and hide. She’d search the house for me, and when she found me I’d jump out from wherever I was, startle her and say “boo!” She’d jump back, then jump up and wag her tail frantically. I always assumed this meant that she liked the game as much as I did, but for all I know this was a moment of fear and annoyance. Personally, I hate it when people startle me. Drives me nuts.
During one such game of hide-and-seek I tried to leap over a recliner to hide behind it. Zeta was a quick dog and I didn’t have a lot of time! So I leaped over the first thing I could see, caught my ankle wrong when I landed and…. Well, that was the second time I broke that ankle. The first time, I was simply walking upstairs. Perhaps I was chewing gum too. I recently broke that same ankle a THIRD time, simply walking along a nice garden path.
I share this as a way to illustrate that I know I’m not terribly graceful. Actually, EVERYONE knows that I’m not terribly graceful. I could write an entire book just about the various ways I’ve managed to injure myself. So it isn’t totally Dexter’s fault that our walks were a ticking time bomb of bodily damage.
I digress. The point is, while I was never totally graceful, my doctor bills did go up when Dexter entered my life. Not everything resulted in a trip to the clinic. But my super-fabulous doctor (also a dog lover) certainly knew a lot about Dexter, and often her go-to question would be, “Did Dexter do this?” or, “Was this the moose?” He’d amble up behind me silently and I’d fall over him when I turned around. He’s push me off to the side while playing in the house with his sister and my knee would go out. He’d swing his head around and bang me in the eye. Once or twice, he missed his usually dead-eye aim when gabbing a treat and he’d nip a finger.
But the most spectacular injuries came on our infamous walks. It was like walking a small truck with bad alignment and no breaks. He didn’t run much, but when he did, there really was no stopping him at all. Larger, stronger people than I tried and failed to control him. Plus, as I’ve mentioned for a period of time, Dexter and I were virtually the same weight.
After much training and with the help of our “dog whisperer,” Brian, Dex (and I) learned to love walks. Brian tamed the beast, or perhaps better said, he broke the horse! He’d have made a good pack mule or sled dog if he’d had good hips (Dexter, not Brian). We even got to a point (after a couple of years) where I could walk him myself without risk of injury. Dexter, Zeta and I could go on adventures together and I’d be able to control both dogs at once. When Zeta passed, I walked Dexter alone. Just the two of us, walking along slowly, taking in the neighborhood, avoiding most people and dogs. In constant conversation. Or perhaps it was merely a monologue with the occasional tail wag and a smiling glance back. Those walks were precious to me, and I would give anything in the world to be able to go on just one more.
But we were a long way from that time.
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