Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walkin' the dog

I asked my mama for fifteen cents,
see the elephant jump the fence.
He jumped so high, he touched the sky.
Never got back till the Fourth of July.
Walkin' the dog ~Rufus Thomas

Over the last year Stella and I have logged enough walking miles to have gone from Nashville to Detroit. Before she came along, I walked with my neighbor but it never amounted to much because we were undisciplined and only went a couple of times a week. Back then I wasn't carrying a camera or a bag of "accessories" and it was less like being tied to the bumper of a car but I digress. Walking twice a day means looking for new and interesting places to go which in the beginning, I thought would be an impossible task. In this (rookie) year I've learned a lot about dog walking, not the least of which is that Nashville is rich with parks and greenways. They are scattered throughout the city along natural waterways, they're convenient and well-maintained. Before the economy became the primary excuse for mindless cut-backs, they even came stocked with dog poop bags.

Beyond that, we've managed to do about a third of our walking in a variety of urban settings. I find those walks to be some of the most fun we've had. I could see where some dogs might not do so well on busy or otherwise crowded streets but practice and (prior) exercise seems to make all the difference. Someone remarked the other day about how well behaved Stella was to only be sixteen months old and I told them it all hinged on her level of exhaustion.

What I have realized in moments of creative brainstorming on the topic of where to go is that there doesn't have to be an actual place to walk your dog. If there's a sidewalk or some path to avoid traffic, you can basically walk anywhere. Sometimes that's the beauty of it.

That's a lot of hot air just to say that I am planning to post (in upcoming weeks) some of the better places around town to walk a dog, not only for the locals but for those who may be passing through. There's also a good chance Nashville's veteran dog walkers have their own lists of great places to walk so I'm secretly hoping they'll weigh in and give us some new ideas. As for the rest of you - where is your favorite place to walk your dog? Is it the same as your dog's favorite place?

While you're thinking about it, have a listen to Rufus Thomas and the Blues Brothers Band aka Booker T. & the M.G.'s

p.s. I cannot wait - to see Steve Cropper so I can ask him about those boots.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day Crush

Stella and I shot Nashville's Veterans Day Parade this afternoon. It's a pretty big parade but we overheard (and joined in on) several conversations about why so few people showed up to watch it. The weather was gorgeous and since the CMA awards were tonight I thought there would be a massive turnout. I was wrong. It's too bad the music business entirely overlooked it as they appear to be so supportive of veterans in their videos. Another suggestion someone had was that all of the school kids should have been invited, not just the ones in the parade. It's fun to be in the parade and all but not if nobody's there to see you. It seems like it would be pretty good field trip/history lesson. Somebody call Mayor Dean's office.

Moving on, we had a lot of fun. Stella got her groove on with a variety of dog-loving veterans, cub scouts, homeless people, a gang of squealing little girls, two guys in wheelchairs and a clown dressed like a cop. Oh yeah, and a Bulldog. Not just any Bulldog either. He was in the parade and they spotted each other at about the same time. Stella laid her head on my shoulder and watched him walk all the way down the street. I wish I had a picture of that, it was very sweet. I could say she had a crush him but it's just as likely she wanted to be in the parade.
Overall, I was proud that she managed to endure the sirens, the drums and a hundred Harley-Davidson motorcycles without incident so when we left after two hours, we headed for the dog park. There she met and wrestled with a great rescue dog named Finnegan, a Husky, and a gigantic St. Bernard who nullified that last bath with some of the most powerful dog slobber I've ever personally encountered. More on that another day.

Meanwhile, Happy Veterans Day and thanks to all the veterans out there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A mile from home

Last week Stella and I were taking one of our regular walks at Ellington Agricultural Center. The landscape looks as if it's been dipped in squash blossoms and Thanksgiving dinner this time of year. Aside from the police horses that live there, an occasional turtle, and one small fox, we've not had as many wildlife encounters there as one might imagine. If we had, I expect the dead cat would've been more of a tip-off.

It had been there for a good long time. Stella's nose was clearly off-duty when we walked up on it and praise Jesus, I was able to steer her away from it before they met. We crossed paths with the coyote shortly thereafter.

I saw it in the distance and thought it was a fox. Stella saw it too. Pretty color, I thought. It matched the tall sandy grass and then it turned in our direction and moving at a steady clip, it began to get a lot bigger. I ordered Stella to stop and sit. Her immediate response confirmed my suspicion that it wasn't a fox at all. When it saw us, it froze. Me and Stella were already frozen.

When the coyote decided to turn back I was relieved and we headed for the big field at the bottom of the hill. The coyote did too but we were paying close attention now and when we walked into the field it stepped out of the tall grass (about 150' feet away) and sized us up again. This time, it was Stella and I that turned back.

I hope that makes us even.

Today we went back again and although we walked with a renewed perspective, the only wild critter we ran upon - used to be a possum. Much like the kitty, it had been professionally killed. Surely there's a hawk or a big owl cutting in on that coyote's gravy train, it's doubtful the coyote would've left enough of the carcass to identify.

To be honest, I hadn't planned on writing about the coyote encounter at all. The idea for this post started with the (profound) observation that Stella was so excited when she got out of the car this afternoon that her butt was moving faster than her head, but I guess I can write that one anytime.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Landscape Artist

Stella helped me rake leaves in the front yard on Thursday. Okay that's a lie. Stella mostly rolled around in the leaves gnawing on a pig foot and giving chase occasionally to imaginary villains. You'd think she didn't get any exercise at all.

I considered getting a bicycle recently just to keep up with her and trust me that would be a whole new level of training medical expense for both of us what with her prey drive/herding instinct confusion. It's like what happens when you mix Hip-hop and Country music. You know there's gonna' be a train wreck, you just don't know when it'll be. Since we're on the subject of exercise, what in God's name are those skates that Cesar Millan wears to exercise his dogs? They look like something I might have built in the basement one time except that mine would've fallen apart on the first skate and his seem to hold up pretty well. I'd love to try on a pair of them just to see if my vintage ankles would snap immediately or later on.

Okay, hold on - after an exhausting five-second search it seems the answer (as usual) is a just a click away. Clearly I'm behind in my skating technology (these skates have been around for five years) and have only recently acquired the National Geographic Channel. I know there are some dog lovers who run and ride bikes with their dog, but are there any skaters out there?

Getting back to the leaves, it was already late when we started so...five down twenty-one to go. It's like spitting in the Grand Canyon.