A Dog Story

This morning after shovelling our walkway, I went in the backyard and took the dog for a walk in the woods behind our house. The powdery snow was up to my waist. The dog had trouble walking through it. Normally he walks well ahead of me, tearing through the trees, zig-zagging all over the place. But this time he seemed content to let me take the lead. I was breaking a trail through the snow, and he was simply walking in my footsteps.

He was tailing me so close, though, that I accidentally kicked him in the lower jaw with the heel of my boot a few times. With each step I had to pull my foot out of a leg hole I’d just made in the snow, drag my boot forward and across the snow with a bent knee, and then drive my foot down into the snow again. More than once, I heard a clump sound as the dog’s jaws were forced shut from banging against my boot. I’d cracked him like this a couple times before I realized what it was, but when I turned around to see if he was hurt, he didn’t even blink. He gave me one of those dog expressions that says, “Why are we stopping?”

At one point in our little sojourn, I took a step and was suddenly up to my chest in snow. I couldn’t move. The dog then tried to leap ahead of me but got stuck even worse than me. Immobilized is more like it. I yelled out a few encouraging words to get him excited, but he wasn’t moving. He was a big yellow dog with no legs lying on top of the snow. So with great effort I kept pushing myself through it, around the dog who still wasn’t moving.

The snow wasn’t as deep as we got further into the woods. I kept trying to get the dog to walk ahead of me but he wouldn’t. He got right beside me a few times, but it didn’t last. Only when he knew we were heading back to the house did he take the lead — by walking back through the path I’d just made through the snow. This is when I noticed that the inside of his mouth was blood red. His tongue was all bloody. He didn’t seem bothered by it.

Our house is up on a hill, so it was harder walking up the hill than it was walking down. The dog was following the least deep section of the hill where the drifts were shallow, but I knew this was the only walk he was going to get today, so I called him over to a high drift of snow where he could crawl through it and get a good workout. He made his path and I made mine, side by side. It took about five minutes to walk twenty paces in the snow.

I was out of breath by the time we got into the house. Once I shook all the snow off myself and put my wet pants in the hamper, I went to the upstairs closet and threw the dog two Milk-Bones, something he always expects after any kind of walk. While he was chomping on the Milk-Bones, I tried to examine his mouth to see if he was still bleeding, but he just looked me like, “Get away from me! I’m having a Milk-Bone.” So I did.

It’s a slow day, a slow week, a slow month at Steel White Table. Both Jody and I are busy with other things. It could be this way for awhile. This little snippet of my life didn’t actually happen today, but close enough… And of course I had to upload this post a couple times with corrections. It’s my way.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John’s, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

4 Replies to “A Dog Story”

  1. True devotion. Sonny often walks close enough to my heels that he gets clunked, and just as you said, when I look back, I get a look like “Why are we stopping?”

    Be careful though — if you ever take your dog biking (him running along side your bike with him on a leash), and your tire (at 100 PSI) explodes with the sound as loud as a gunshot, your dog will tend to try to flee the scene, forgetting that he is still attached to your arm with a leash. Having a tire go flat and nearly simultaneously being tugged to the side does not do good things to the notion of stability. You just might end up on the ground with a few scrapes on yourself and some on your bike, and your dog looking at you with a panicked like “What the HELL just happened?”

  2. I take it you moved away from golf avenue then, cause I don’t remember any woods behind there.

    We used to walk our 3 big dogs near fielding gardens/some elementary school across the street. The dogs would take a nice hearty shit in the fields that the kids would play in at lunchtime. Eventually they put up a sign “dogs must be on a leash” but that didn’t stop us from dumping thousands of pounds of manure onto their fields. Plus we ignored the sign. Good times! To this day I have fond made up memories of kids rolling in shit at recess.

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