For years, I’ve been watching the trained humans, following their dogs down the street to make the turn into the wash for the ‘duty call’.
There were short ones and tall ones, chunky ones and skinny ones pulled along by their dogs on the quest for ‘the spot’. Some kept their eyes to the ground, while others nervously looked about, as if on their first mission.
I often pitied them, locked into the twice daily routine. I’d even occasionally wondered if they had a life or if they patiently paced between the kitchen and living room, waiting for the timing to be right.
I would see Dobies, Boxers, and Labs handled by the slightest of females. These teams seemed to be under control most often. Sometimes, these women controlled two or three of these beefy protectors at a time. There would be no muggings on this street today.
Then there were groups that went out in between the working dog packs. I have witnessed fully grown, hairy armed, tattooed, retired men, bravely strong arming their team of Pekinese, Toy Poodles, and Cockers. I quickly avert my eyes or go inside so I would not embarrass those guys with my staring. After all, they were just trying to survive the humiliation one more time.
I’ve been married for thirty eight years. In that time, I only bought one dog, and that was a poor attempt to satisfy my partner’s strong nesting instinct. I figured a puppy would suppress the urge, and we could stop at two human children, one of each.
Of course, this brilliant plan failed, and she continued to produce. We ended up giving that dog away to needful schnauzer people because of the move we made to Tucson.
During the following years, pets found us, a floppy eared rabbit appeared one day, and an endangered desert tortoise made it up the driveway to our front door.
Awesome, the solid black, green eyed cat walked into our life, an absolute pleasure!
We named her Awesome because, she ran the neighborhood. Other cats would come by and pay homage, and coyotes only howled in admiration at Awesome’s royalness. She told us when she wanted to come in for a visit, and then, she let us know that she’d had enough and wanted to go back outside for the evening. She loved us, and we loved her.
A few years later, her heart failing, I had to put her down. The vet said she was over fourteen years old, which is good for an outside, desert cat. It broke me up so, I promised I would never have another pet. Then, a couple of weeks ago, away from Tucson to take care of some business, I received a phone call from my wife. We’d been adopted by a dog.
On her way back from her South Dakota vacation, they saw this dog alone at a rest stop. While they were there, other cars stopped, but the dog kept its distance. When our Chevy was the only vehicle left at the stop, my daughter told my wife they couldn’t leave it there. The coyotes would kill it.
With that, my daughter knelt down close to the pavement; the dog ran to her, my daughter got in the Trail Blazer, and in came our next pet, a four pound, long haired, toy Chihuahua. There wasn’t name tag. Deciding it was a male, they named it Max for Maximilian, I think.
Several days later, I arrived home and was met by Max. Later that same day, after a trip to the vet, Maximilian was discovered to be Maxine. Now, my wife is a nurse that has had four kids, one of one and three of the other (my baseball players). My daughter has had a son. There are parts, and then there are parts missing. Sorry, I don’t dare say anything more about this!
At first, Maxi was terrified of me. When I did get close, she would crawl low with her ears down, stop, and then roll onto her back in the time honored, submissive manner animals display. That was the first thing I liked about her. She’d established me as the Alpha. The other two females in the house have not picked up on this yet.
After a week, still a little nervous, Maxi was beginning to realize that I was a kind ruler, and warmed up to me a bit. I lightened up a little, and she played a little, and well, you know how it goes!
I was informed that because I was semi-retired, and the two women had to work (awe shucks), I, as a writer (not a real job), was in charge of Maxi while they were bringing home the bread.
My time had come. History will now show that Ronald D. Drobeck, hunter, fisherman, outdoorsman, and all around testosterone guy was now the custodian of a four pound mouse that sounded like a squeak toy when it barked.
Bringing this confession to a close, I have to tell you of the first time I put Maxi on her leash and she took me for my first walk.
Peering left and right down the street, I saw no one. I felt the time was right for my first time out with ‘the mouse’. I mean, there wasn’t a car, a kid, a bird in the sky, or Fido anywhere. I ventured out.
I walked with my head and eyes down a little, determined that Maxi was not going to pull me as I’d seen happen to so many men. She didn’t pull. She pranced, PRANCED alongside of me, head up and proper, as if showing off what she had on the other end of the leash.
With my attention on the prancing Chihuahua, I failed to notice the blue Ford Focus that had slowed and crossed over to my side of the street with the window down. It was Gracie, my neighbor, owner of two fuzzy, barky little dogs that I had made fun of in the past.
“Well, Ron Drobeck, I thought it was you! What’s that on the end of that leash, and why did you hide your eyes when you recognized me?” She grinned with a twinkle.
“Hi Gracie. Of all the people to be driving by at this moment, it just had to be you.” I said with dramatic effect. I blurted, “This is Brutus, and he’s only one week old, and he’s going to be huge some day!”
We threw one liners at each other for a few moments. Maxi got impatient with the lack of attention, and started to pull toward home.
Gracie knew, took pity, and gracefully ended the conversation by saying, “It looks like she is ready to go home! Go ahead; I want to watch that little hind-end trotting down the sidewalk.”
I turned and headed home with Maxi doing her tight, little prance next to me. I was happy to walk away only slightly wounded, and a small bead of sweat on my forehead.
I was almost to the front door when I realized that I didn’t know whether Gracie was talking about the dog or me! I quickly pivoted, only to see the Ford disappear into her garage.