Today the temperature had unseasonably risen all the way to 61 degrees F. by 1 P.M., and furthermore it wasn't raining. So I got cleaned up (I try to smell at least as pleasant as my dog), got dressed in dirty jeans in case sitting in the grass was called for and a clean but old T-shirt, laced on the Doc Marten oxfords that I'd almost succeeded in breaking in before the damn dog chewed them up (I retrieved them before they were totally unusable but they're no longer nifty) and took the eager mutt for a stroll. As it was still only 2 P.M. by then I decided to head for someplace he wasn't tired of (or that I wasn't; I tend to confuse us sometimes).
First I had to convince him I knew what I was doing by choosing a new route. This is not as easy as I've read it's supposed to be: he's clearly gotten the idea (from his female person perhaps) that there's something wrong with my brain (one example is that when he wakes me up because he's got to go he knows to wait till I've had some coffee before letting me leash him). The usual procedure is to let him stand and sniff till he decides where he wants to saunter, which is usually the grounds of the dead slave-owner's former mansion a few blocks away where the local bourgeois display their purebreds, but lately he's been been dragging me down towards our neighborhood's shopping district where there's always going to be some new person to pet him. (He never gets enough attention at home, or so he thinks: because we sometimes want to do other things, his belly might go unrubbed for two hours at a stretch.)
Then I had to try to remember how to get to the park I wanted to visit by a dog-friendly route and wound up getting us lost: we wandered circuitously for about half an hour before winding up four blocks from home. This meant we had to take the dog- unfriendly route I'd been trying to avoid, with a narrow sidewalk smack up against a busy crosstown street, for about half a mile of muttering. This is when I discovered that if I shorten the leash and try to make him walk on the side away from traffic he'll pull contrarily towards the other side, which causes me anxiety because too damn many people drive their double-wide SUVs with their cell phone in one hand and their junk food in the other, paying little apparent attention to the fact that they're piloting huge machines down a public thoroughfare with hundreds of motoring morons like themselves and a handful of brave pedestrians (some walking dogs or children). So I got the bright idea, all by myself, to let him have some slack on the leash, whereupon he took his usual position, sauntering along about two feet in front of me, more or less out of the way of all but the most determined dogsquisher. (Whom I might well drag out of his/her truck and beat to death: they've added 150 mg of Lamictal to my usual drug regimen but one should still be wary of harming my pooch.) So we finally managed to get to the park, where I set about trying to show Mister Dog a good time.
I'd noticed he was panting and drooling, which often means he could use a drink. (Of water: I'm the bourbon-swiller here.) But I discovered that the City had turned the water fountains off for the winter, despite the occasional warm days like today when teenage boys like to play hooky to practice skateboard tricks, retired gents want to practice their tennis technique and the neighborhood idiot wants to entertain his canine. Then I found that the locked-down soda machine did contain 20 ounce bottles of Aquafina, but they'd neglected to stock that part lately (and he wasn't desperate enough for me to resort to Sprite). Then I found that they'd also locked the rest rooms for the winter, which bothered me because besides depriving my best friend of a dose of HOH those locked doors forced me to suffer directly: all the coffee I'd imbibed to fuel me for the journey was straining at my Levi's, and in this town they arrest people for Public Urination and tack on Indecent Exposure if the cop found out because a tax-payer complained. So I had another bright idea, of picking him up, carrying him across the busy crosstown street, and finding out whether the Agent for the house that's been for rent for six months had turned off the outside faucet; luckily s/he hadn't, so we both stole a few sips. (I'll also tresspass into people's yards to throw the latest bag of dog poop in their trash can: his female person warns me these rednecks might shoot me for that, so I tend to pick houses that look like nobody's home.) Then of course I had to pick him back up and tote him back across the street, where he lead me around the park by his nose while I tried to find a tree wide enough to hide my member while I issued fluid (and failed, but not because I have an extra-large member).
By this time we'd been out and about for about an hour and I was getting annoyed by my accumulated disappointments and by my full bladder (and he was getting annoyed with me getting annoyed, though I don't think I was muttering to myself the whole time), so we jointly decided to give up and head on home. By sheer luck I found the route I'd been meaning to take in the first place, where I learned I'd gone left when right was right, so we managed to get back before I seriously considered finding a back-yard flowerbed to water.
Then, after rushing to the toilet and relieving one annoyance, I removed my hundred-dollar shoes (and 6 pairs for $5 socks) to find that I was correct: I had indeed gotten a big blister -- right where our household god had chewed the right shoe up. So, relieved that I'd signed up for a study at the medical school tomorrow where they pay one $50 to answer some questions and let them draw three tubes of blood ($16.666666667 per tube), I decided not to buy a month's worth of Old Grand-Dad with my blood money but navigate to Zappos.com for a pair of decent dog-walking shoes instead. It seems the best I can do with what I've got is a pair of trail-running things, light enough to wear him out instead and with enough traction so a bit of of mud won't scare me. (They better last at least till Fall, dammit.)
It's still only February: there are better days coming. So I hear. I'll reward this dog for his tolerance yet.
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