31 December 2008

None of my dogs ever chases their own tails.

I'm going to end 2008 with a tale of yesterday's walk in the field. Like so many tales told all through this year. My last walk in Lighthouse Field for this Esteemed Year of 2008. Was a basic, quick morning walk before running off to work. Nice day just starting on West Cliff, sun was up and ocean so clear, walking into the sun. Decided to just skirt across the edge of the field on the way back, not even walking through it, exactly. The far edge, acre 32.9 of 33 of them. Along the fence where the boxy apartments are, with hula Christmas tinsel dangling off balconies in the breeze. As far from a ranger truck as you can possibly be. A tiny bit of freedom for a tiny run, then back on leashes to dash home through the neighborhood.

Had 'em off, dogs started to run a little, this way and that, only running they may have all day, when I see it. The truck. My nemesis, my albatross, the big white whale that follows me around instead of me chasing it. Why does it know when I'm there? I have a split second to decide, grab the dogs and leash 'em up or just keep going into certain ticketdom once again.

Call everyone in. Off yer leash, on yer leash. Ruby already right there, Otterpop comes right in, Gustavo meanders about and is farthest out and I crouch down and call for my good buddy and he comes running in and clip on his dirty, red leash.

So then, what to do? Make a run for it the way I came in, back towards the sea that's so glary and sparkly in my eyes that I have to squint to look that way, which, by the way, adds tiny little crows feet to your eyes and you are not supposed to squint if you are wanting to keep nice complected and away from the knife? Keep going the way we were headed, due North, the way to my house? Sit there and have a smoke and wait for that truck to just roll it's wide tires on up to me? That one would have been the obvious choice for dramatic flair, but being I don't smoke, and being I'm already running late-ish for work, it's head up and out we go towards National Street. The streets in the neighborhood are named for civic pride and noble American ideals. We could also walk up Liberty or Columbia. Decide perhaps best to make a run for it, in my jogger disguise of clogs and a big coat and jeans that are far too tight already thank you See's candy debacle of the previous weeks.

I'm running and I feel like I'm about to tear up all weepy face because I'm running like a criminal with a truck coming after me and I'm just trying to walk my dogs. Is that being a big fat baby with no other life than walking these dogs, some kind of hormone imbalance like everyone says is coming now that you're OVER FORTY, or just this moment of pure frustrated hatefulness of things not working like I want? And I get mad and I just start brisk walking instead and my head is up and I walk fast and I can hear it behind me coming up closer. I don't turn around, not once and I plan, then and there, to lie. I plan ahead and my plan is that I am going to look the ranger dead in the eye and lie that I ever had them off their leashes and that's my plan since now I've turned into a liar.

I keep going towards the street with civic pride name and I'm still not looking back. All I hear are rolling tires that make a quiet, rolling crunching noise on the sandy path and I step out of the park and into the street and then across the street and set foot on the sidewalk and I can hear it's not behind me anymore. It's paused at the edge of the field, where the sidewalk starts, idling by the sign that has the little stick man walking his great big stick dog on a stiff piece of string. I don't look back and I just keep walking along.

Walking up the sidewalk of National Street, I think, that's it. I guess that's the last time we walk out there in the year of 2008 and that's how it went and usually I'm not a big one for things must mean something else but then and there, I think they do. Not that 2008 was an all bad year. It's just a year and all of them, they have their ups and downs. Like a stapler, you know? Goes up and goes down and sometimes holds the paper together just like you wanted and sometimes sends a staple straight through your finger then off to the emergency room you go. Sometimes the damn thing doesn't work and sometimes you can't even find it. But it's still just a stapler.

Hey. At least I'm not giving you a Top 10 movie list. Top 10 goals for agility. Top 10 ways to influence Oprah into handing you the keys to her still standing Montecito estate. A stapler. Never said I knew how to philosophize.

This was a year where a lot of things went lost. That happens sometimes, happens to us all. Something about being chased out of the field by a truck, just makes me think about it while I'm walking by the houses I see every day. Lost Timmy. Jane. Lighthouse Field. A lot of lost happening elsewhere, in bigger pictures far wider than my little view. Lots of my friends, had their losts this year. And how do you handle it? You get mad. You compress into a shrinky ball of depressed. You fight or lay down or rollover on your back, or you can just try to keep going some other, new kind of way that you didn't know about yet. Something else that might be bigger or might be shinier and might be just so different that you didn't think to try it before.

Don't know how long that truck sat there. Don't know where it went. Never looked back to see. Just looked up and ahead and towards where we're going and I have all my dogs here and we just keep going, through the squirrels and under the trees, trying to stay in the sun and just keep on walking.


Cedarfield said...

So the law is that your dogs have to be "on leash"? But it doesn't say you have to hold the end of the leash? Can you get them all a really light line to wear attached to their collars that they can drag behind? If you get a light, nylon line it won't catch on anything and then you can say, "Yes, my dogs are on leash."

Amber-Mae said...


Pooped from celebrating,
Solid Gold Dancer

team small dog said...

No. It is where they run. And people would walk, and the dogs would run. Through bushes, over trees, across meadows, with nothing dragging, nothing tailing.

And now, there's paradigm shift. It took 7 years to shift this way. That won't be solved via semantic discussions at a ranger, local, or state level. About little light lines.

It's the way things are now.

Elf said...

Stapler. Good. We laugh.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Team Small Dog!

Your blog today made me laugh and cry, so beautifully written and yes we have suffered a lot of loss this year but the dogs and I will just keep on walking...(oh and maybe do some agility training as well if we ever find the time)

Best wishes from Australia

Anonymous said...

TSD, we are very slowly losing our rights to enjoy our dogs as we would. Please be aware of PETA and HSUS and how they are taking our rights from us, slowly and slowly.

Santa Cruz and California are a look to the future for the rest of us.

Mandatory spay/neuter one day. No off leash walks the next. No dogs, in the future. No dog agility. No dogs from breeders. No dogs.

That's what they want. Oppose any control on pets they propose.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Laura! You are so very, very right on. We can't control everything we want to, but you found a tiny crack and made use of it. Even if TSD wasn't off its collective leash for very long, you pulled it off...and then you moved on. The truck is what it is, and it needs to be watched for, but it does NOT need to be looked back at. Awesome job. There will be more cracks for you to find in 2009, I'm sure of it.

One thing that works for me, if you haven't tried it, is to only unleash one dog at a time. Much faster to get one dog back on leash when needed, and the one off leash is much less likely to be noticed by a horizon-scanning ranger when you clearly have dogs walking next to you that are clearly attached.

I send my very best wishes for a very good 2009.