Summer is tough on dogs. The heat can’t be beat, so we try to dodge it by starting before sunrise. We use the early hour to visit places normally too busy for comfortable dog walking. This morning we’re at Willow Lawn.
Gripping two leashes in one hand and a hot, full to the brim cup of coffee in the other, I’m searching for a speed slow enough for them to sniff what they want to sniff, but quick enough to prevent all the strip mall, trash can debris (dirty napkins, empty chicken nugget boxes, a piece of fruit smashed flat as paper) from becoming their breakfast. It’s not easy. I’m always tugging them away too soon, forever underestimating the time they need to give all the bushes, benches, fire hydrants, and street signs a proper sniff. Passing the Starbucks and Dairy Queen I’m positive I hear the scratchy sound of tongue sliding across cement, stealthy chewing, and the extra quiet silence that comes when something you thought was inedible gets swallowed.
When the dogs were younger there was no stopping and sniffing, only forward, no matter what. Puppies feel the pull of two gravities, one from earth and one from the horizon. Like a water skier tethered to two different speed boats, their energy yanked and held our walking formation in a strict V. Bringing coffee wasn’t an option. Waving hello required concentration.
At Duck Donuts a young woman gets out of her car holding a bright yellow, rolled up yoga mat. She goes inside and a few minutes later emerges with a box of donuts, yoga mat still in hand. She gets back in her car and drives away. Was she worried someone would steal her yoga mat? Did she think she was walking into her yoga place? Did she rob the donut shop with a weapon hidden inside her yoga mat?
If she did nobody reports it. We continue our walk, and a few minutes later I hear behind me the slap of liquid colliding with concrete. When I turn around I see another wad of liquid spreading through air the second before it smacks against the sidewalk. This time a few drops hit my hands and face. I look up and see a construction worker looking down at me with a bucket in his hands. He slinks away and a second later I hear roaring laughter. The dogs have no reaction, and already are towing me towards what looks like an old squished banana on a paper plate.
We get back to our walk, and soon we’re done and back in the truck, panting, happy, listening to music, looking forward to…. no, no, I can’t fake it anymore. That was weird and disgusting…and…(sniff) yep, it’s urine… that is definitely construction worker urine! We’re going somewhere different tomorrow! I hate summer! Can’t wait for autumn!