“She really doesn’t want to go, Martha?”
“Nope. I’m not going to spend time trying to catch her when I have another perfectly good dog who DOES want to go, right?”
“Yay! Yay! Yay! I’m going to sit here and you put my harness on, OK?”
“Good boy, Teddy.”
“Bye Bear! Bye Bear! Can’t we take her? She’s looking at us through the fence.”
“That’s her thing, Teddy. She has free will. She chose not to come.”
“Up, puppy. You do that so good, Teddy.”
“I know, Martha. I’m the shit when it comes to getting in the car. Is that a good song, Martha?”
“Yeah, it’s a good song.”
“Why don’t you sing?”
“I can’t sing this one.” (Truth is, only Teddy thinks I can sing ANYTHING.)
We arrive, park, get out of Bella. I take my handy-dandy poop bag for my little guy just in case and we take off.
“Martha, there is all kinds of NEW POOP everywhere! Martha, my geese are out of control. Wait, there’s more! More geese!”
I look and there are goslings.
“Stop, Teddy,” I say and take a zoomed in photo of tiny birds. OH well.
We go on and then, suddenly, beside the trail…
“MARTHA! MARTHA! MARTHA!!!”
“No Teddy. You have to leave that alone. That little guy has enough enemies already.”
“What IS it? What is that miraculous beast? I WANT it!!!”
“Cottontail rabbit, Teddy.”
“Probably somewhere in your ancestral memory.”
There are other signs of spring in the Big Empty now. The trees…
Look, more poop. And more. I’m going to taste this one.”
“Don’t eat that shit, Teddy.” I laugh to myself. Here in the Big Empty who’s going to laugh with me?”
“Martha, listen. There’s that sound you like.”
“Hang on little dude. I’m going to try to take her picture.”
“Are you going to stop here?”
“Yeah. Maybe we’ll get lucky and see the osprey or the hawks again.” I sit down on a rock. In fact, this walk has been slow and painful. Various parts of my body hurt from wielding the pick-axe. I’m no spring chicken. But, you know, it’s just one foot in front of the other and there is NO race. I don’t mind at all because walking is better than NOT walking. Left, right, left, right, left right. No one is here. No one is judging me. Just this little guy who stops periodically to jump up on me for a hug. He thinks I’m great.
While I’m sitting on “my” rock, a pair of ravens flies over, surfing the wind. Teddy climbs up into my lap as much as he can. I think of the thousands of times I’ve sat on a rock somewhere in the turn around or half-way point of a hike and a beloved dog has sat beside me or laid its head on my lap while I watched birds. “What’s better than this?” I think from my “lofty” promontory of roughly 28 inches. “A great dog and ravens playing on the wind.”
On the way home (the walk back was easier and less painful than the way out which is why it’s better to walk) I hear a good old song that I LOVE and that I can sing. Nothing deep, no Rocky Mountain High or anything, but Teddy was happy, licked my hand (probably thought I was in pain) and snuggled beside me.