“Dad! DAD! Can we go outside now? Please!”
“OK, Rosie. Let me get my raincoat.”
“Oh no! Is the sky crying again, Dad?”
“Not yet, but it looks like it will be soon. This is a perfect time to go for your walk.”
I put on my raincoat and clicked Rosie’s bright pink leash to her bright pink collar. As usual, she spins around in several circles, tail wagging and a big smile on her face. I open the door and step out of the way as she prances out the front door, first again, as usual. We are nothing if not two creatures of habit, and Rosalita always goes out first.
Just outside, she stops.
“Dad, the grass is peeing up.”
“No, Rosie, those are sprinklers. They water the grass when its not raining. Don’t you remember me explaining that to you last year?”
“Last year? What’s that? But you said it was going to rain. why are they peeing up today?”
“They are not peeing. They are on a timer that the community landscaper controls. It’s the end of the rainy season so they will come on twice a week now.”
“Oh. Ok, I guess. I just pee when I have to. I don’t have a timer.”
“Oh yes you do. What do you think would happen if I didn’t wake up early and walk you every morning?”
“Um, well,” she hesitated, changing the subject, “let’s walk around the block now, huh? Can we?”
“Ok,” I sigh, resigned, “let’s go up the hill.” Reminding myself, it is wise to choose winnable battles.
Rosie and I walk the short distance up the hill. She is pulling on the leash, anxious to go.
Last week the landscapers cut the trees way back to just stubby branches and buds were just starting to show. The neatly trimmed, chest high hedges sprouted beautiful red leaves, mixed with the green. Very Christmassy, in March. At the top of the hill Rosie stops and looks at me.
I check for any traffic and say, as I do every time Rosie and I walk this way, “Ok, let’s cross the street.” We turn right and walk towards the yellow fire hydrant.
“Sniff, sniff, sniff.” Rosie doesn’t use the fire hydrant but does like to see who visited there recently.
Eventually, she looks up and says, “Ok, let’s go.”
At the end of the block we turn right again onto the long block with the “mean” dog. She isn’t really a mean dog. “She” is a little tan cocker spaniel who ran at Rosie once barking and yapping. Since then, Rosie stares at the door to her house until we are well past, just in case.
Our street is a peninsula, or at least it was way back when the Sacramento Valley was an ocean inlet. We live at the base of the peninsula, at the top of the hill. It’s not really much of a hill when compared with other streets in the community, or the Sierra Nevada foothills a few miles to the northeast.
Our route leads us around the end of the street and turn back towards home. This is Rosie’s favorite poop lawn and true to form, a few moments later I am on pick up duty, or dooty duty as I like to call it. I tried to convince Rosie she should clean up after herself, but she claims without an opposable thumb she is limited on what she can actually do and I should just do it. She uses that argument against me way to often. I guess it’s my own fault for teasing her about her obvious limitation.
Once Mom’s car is visible in our driveway Rosie starts tugging on the leash. She moves to my left side, away from the lawns, urging me to cross the street. Finally, I agree and say,
“Ok, cross the street.”
Pulling me across the street she strides onto our front lawn. The sprinklers were off and the heads recessed, except the one next to the tree in the center of the lawn. It has a purple top which Mom says means re-use water, even though we don’t have re-use water here. I step on it, pushing it down into the ground to avoid tripping on it.
Rosie looked up at me in anticipation. “Now, Dad?”
“Ok, but the grass is wet, and you don’t like wet.”
“It’s ok. You can clean my feet after. Now? Please”
I unsnap her leash and she is off, running around the tree trunk and dropping into her play pose. When Rosie is ready to play she straightens her front legs, arches her back and drops her front knees to the ground. Her back legs are straight and her butt in the air. All I have to do is fake a lunge towards her and she is off. She warms up by running back and forth around the tree a few times, keeping it between the two of us. Once her muscles are warmed up she then runs big circles and figure eights around our yard and our neighbor’s. When she slows, I just have to stamp towards her and she is off again. I tire long before she does and after four or five minutes I let her know that is enough.
“Are you sure, Dad? I am not even winded yet.”
“Then why are you panting with your tongue out?”
“Because this is such fun. You know you can’t catch me, event though you try. “Cmon try to catch me!”
“I’ll tell you what. You stay out here running and I will go inside. When you are ready you can open the door yourself and come in.”
“Dad, you know I can’t do that.”
“Oh, really?” I ask innocently. “Why is that Rosie?”
“Cause I am to small to reach the door latch.”
“Cause I don’t have those opossum thumbs you tease me about.”
“Good, I am glad you understand who is the Dad, if not the boss here.”
I move to the door as Rosie watches me. I open the door, step inside and stop, looking back at her, still in her play pose.
“Ok, ‘cmon in, Rose,” as she charges the front door, passes me and runs to Mom, tail wagging.