A Bit About the Dog

January 30, 2016

I walk the dog a lot. I am the primary dog walker, and usually the sole dog walker. The dog and I get along fairly well. She adores and fears me, I tolerate her and get annoyed at her bouts of rogue chewing and urination. I often compose these pieces by dictating to my phone while I walk the dog, which gives you an idea of the weird solitude of suburban neighborhoods at night. I enjoy the solitude, and sometimes pretend I am walking through the woods. I doubt Thoreau ever had a dog.

Yesterday morning, the dog made a break for it while I was piling my daughters into the car to go to school. The dog tries to behave, but she is very, very fond of chasing ducks. She can detect them across the street, through a closed door, and they task her. The dog barks at them frequently, but the dog barks at many things. This morning, she was feeling extraordinarily duck frisky, and, sensing an opening, took off.

We live near a few lakes, all of which are parallelograms, which is not uncommon in Miami. My understanding is that the lakes occur after the ground rock has been pulled up to serve as the foundation for housing developments, and thereby two birds are served. It should be noted that not all lakes are square, but some developers are more poetic than others. It was to the nearest square lake, surrounded by ducks (I live near three lakes, there are ducks everywhere) that the dog headed. Murder on my mind, I jogged after her. She was zipping up and down the shores when I caught up, putting to flight quite a number of ducks which were larger than herself. (The dog is about the size of a cat, but considers herself to be at least a Rottweiler.) Once again, ducks found themselves victimized due to their own poor organizing ability. The world will never be conquered by ducks.

Back and forth the dog ran, scouring the shore. I called her name — well, there were some other words on either side of it, but her name was in there — and she responded by buzzing past me at Mach 2, her eyes bright with playfulness. My eyes were by this point almost entirely black, I am sure. This dog buzzing went on for a while, as the dog is almost still a puppy and has more energy than anything should. The ducks decided to retreat to the middle of the lake, which did not deter the dog. Having seen the dog mope about in moderate rainfall and desperately avoid taking a bath, I was more than a little startled to see her plunge into the lake with reckless abandon, and begin paddling towards the ducks, submerged up to her snout and eyes. I was approximately 1/3 impressed, 1/3 brimming with homicidal satisfaction and 1/3 slightly gobsmacked that the idiot dog somehow thought she could take on ducks in water. I am quite certain that this latter is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of ducks, rather than bravery.

In the past, I have had other, sainted, dogs who were dog-sized and displayed better judgement. Once, when one of these beloved pets got a little out of their depth while swimming, I jumped into a lake fully clothed to rescue him. Would I do the same for this dog? I considered the question. And considered the question. Before the jury had reached a verdict, the dog found herself victim to another one of her interesting traits, which is an inability to gauge size at a distance. The ducks on the lake, which had appeared wonderful playmates from the shore, were suddenly a bit too large for her tastes, and she pulled a tight u-turn, heading back to land. Where I was waiting as she struggled a shore, and snatched her up with what was doubtless a triumphant glare. Water poured from her fur like she was a garden hose. Wet, she resembled nothing less than a black otter.

Guilty wet dog.

On our way back to the driveway, we encountered my wife and kids, who had been tracking my progress around the lake on my wife’s “Find My Friends” app. (My wife likes to track me under all circumstances.) They cheered, and took pictures. They cheered the dog, to be clear. Water was still pouring off the dog, who was looking a trifle sheepish, or perhaps I was projecting.

“How did she get so wet?” my wife asked.

“Turns out she can swim,” I said, attempting to make my extreme displeasure evident in every syllable.

“Aw,” my wife replied “You’re just a little proud of her, aren’t you?”

And, dammit, I was.