Wednesday, December 7, 2011

teaching old dogs new tricks

             I don't often talk or write about the other dog who lives here; he's not my dog. 
He is legally registered to me, I feed and water him.  I run him.  Hike him.  I stop to answer the questions on the way, "What kind of dog is that?" 
He is Standard Poodle, the real deal. 

He is kind, although less patient with age, doesn't need a leash, & understands swear words from me muttered on a run aren't aimed at him.  Smart enough to know the ones BJ mutters hiking are; he calls him Chaperon and as far as I can tell that dog is BJ's least favorite animal on the planet. 

But like I said he isn't my dog, in fact I don't like him very much. I could take a long time explaining why but it is easier to say it isn't the dog's fault that I don't like him; it is the way I love & fall in love.  I am not in love with him; he's too perfect.  I love wounded things.  If pressed I would tell you that is one of BJ's issues with the dog too but he also has other personal issues with the animal.
We have had him longer than we have had Beach.   He is a full breed dog rescued from the pound. I named him Moses and the Agnostic had to explain the joke/story to Colby the Quaker.   But from the first moment Colby took him from the kennel I cringed backing away scared. For a woman raised with St. Bernard's and the owner of a Boxer (the X's dog) he couldn't quite understand how or why a poodle, yes a large poodle but still a poodle could frighten me.  I had known one as a child and it was very mean, probably the smartest scariest dog I have ever known. 

It took work for me to pull apart that fear.  I am not afraid of this dog, haven't been for years now but my prejudice has left an uncrossable barrier between us.  
I have attempted to replace him as my running partner three times and two out of three dogs he out lived (one metaphorically, one for reals).  Ginger Mercy Pig-Pig is my third attempt at finding love.

Yesterday something strange happened.  I was hiking later than I should have been and ill prepared if something went wrong.  (no that isn't the strange part)  I hate to admit what I did and didn't have with me but let's say if she didn't even take gloves into the mountain at dusk she wasn't thinking straight from the second she left the house. 

An hour in a skier pasted me he looked at me and at his watch turning slightly to see the empty trail behind him.  I smiled and waved and continued on up the canyon. 
Where I should have turned back I turned off the trail watching the sun slip lower and lower out of view.  I was chasing a patch of backwards light I wanted to reach it before turning back.  I wanted to stand in it for just a second. 

From the moment I turned off the snow covered road for the small side trail my dog began whining.  The reason in my head kicking in the Ordeal by Hunger Narrator- had she only turned back when she should have... I urged the dogs on, little dog whining.  At the first real bend in the path Moses stepped in front of me walking back towards me.  I went around him.  He did it again and again until finally he stood before me blocking the trail and barked at me. 

I stared a him a moment thinking about both dogs protesting the path.  I may not love him but I must trust him because I turned around wondering about a dog that I don't love & a patch of sunlight I would never feel, & never should have been chasing.
We ran the whole way back never looking behind us.  In the lot beyond the gate a man asked me "What kind of dog is that?"  "You know I been told he is a Standard Poodle but I'm really not sure what kind of dog he is. I hardly know him at all."      

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