Sunday, May 10, 2015

Friend of the Quick Brown Fox

Buddy follows me wherever I go. Mostly. Not always. Sometimes he thinks he knows where I’m going, and when I’ll return. Especially when I’m writing. Once I settle down for the morning Buddy walks in, goes under the desk and lies on my feet. Great in the winter, not so terrific when the weather turns hot. But Buddy doesn’t mind.

When I put a mat down on the floor for my daily exercise regimen, my pal follows me in, lowering himself to the floor so that his body is pressing up against my head. Unless he decides to lie on my feet. Hard to do lifts and push-ups and things when he participates. I hope my example will lead him to more stringent exercises of his own, but so far I’m just another convenient pillow for him. That’s fine, unless it’s summer and I really don’t need a fur cap.

When we go for our morning hike, usually first thing after I wake up, when the sun is still clearing the mountain to the east, we often cross terrain that demands careful foot placement. We don’t run. Actually, we don’t run anytime. We walk. Sometimes slowly, once-in-a-while a bit more quickly, but that only happens when we’re in the fields, not going up or down the ridge behind the house. Slipping and falling, where rocks and hidden roots and leaf-covered tree stumps abound is not good for contact with bones, so I tend to tread carefully especially on the downslope. When I take too long to make a move, Buddy stops, sits and looks longingly at the road below or the flat field that marks the end of the day’s rough walking. When I move forward, he waits to be sure I’m really going on, and then he picks himself up and walks past me, showing by his easy 4-foot-drive, that he has no trouble negotiating this part of the trail. He wasn’t tired, you see, just lazy. Why move if you aren’t going somewhere?

Having a companion who likes to know you are nearby is a really nice thing about a dog. You’re never alone, but you don’t, beyond giving an occasional pat on the head or scratch around the root of his tail, have to acknowledge his presence. It’s enough to just be there, I guess. It is for me, anyway.

Buddy isn’t an old dog yet. About three or four would be our guess. As with all of the pack (Teddy and Louie book-end Buddy), our pals are survivors rescued from shelters: strays, un-planned pups, the abandoned and forlorn. They are grateful, loving, rewarding members of our clan, able to adjust to changing times and places and situations. Buddy is a disappointment in only one area: he doesn’t like to ride. Not in my car or the old pickup or the not-quite-as-old SUV we use for really bad weather or as a transport to the kennel when we must be away for a period of time. He will ride, if I lift him and get him in before he knows what’s happening, but it isn’t his choice. Much as I’d hate to have to clean up the side of the car after a ride, I envy those drivers whose dogs ride along, head out the window, happy to be in the breeze, or sitting quietly beside the driver.

One of Buddy’s predecessors was Bear, a mix of Sheltie and Chow. An engaging boy who weighed about 45 pounds when he grew up, Bear would leap into my car or truck anytime I opened the door. Once underway he would stand, his hind legs on the back seat, his front paws on the armrest between the front seats, and then somehow engage my right shoulder with the elbow of his left front leg. It could induce discomfort on a long trip, but it was always comforting to know he wanted to be beside me. Louie is too small to get up into even the lowest of our vehicles, and Teddy, though he loves to ride, is at an age when getting up off the floor is an effort, but he will try to get in the car if he has the opportunity. But not Buddy.

Buddy is my pal. He stays nearby all the time, finding a comfortable (to him) place on the floor where there is support for his head (the wall, my foot, a chair leg) whenever I sit down.

Buddy is the ideal companion for the quick, brown fox.

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