Tag: Dogs

A Walk in the Dark

Morning light is getting a bit more scarce these days.  We usually take Farley for his morning constitutional  somewhere around 6:42.  I know, that 6:42 doesn’t sound like a time that comes after the words “somewhere around,” but I’ve lived in Connecticut, the land of steady habits, for over 35 years, so, yeah, 6:42, give or take a few seconds.

The problem is that although a 6;42 walk is very pleasant for much of the year, in late October, before the clock changes, it becomes a walk in the dark.

With our old dogs, that meant me wearing a headlamp and one of those fashionable reflective vests. I was willing to take the fashion hit so that stampeding deer knew I wasn’t a shrub…and, I suppose, so that frantic commuters didn’t drive  over me as they raced to the train station. I worried a bit about the dogs, though, as both wore permanent black coats that rendered them invisible.  Unfortunately neither would tolerate any sort of reflective gear.

Sadly neither one is with us anymore.  Oh, no, they never had a walking accident.  Sorry if I gave that impression.  I was just leading to the fact that they are no longer with us, and we now have our pandemic puppy, who, because the pandemic has such staying power, is now a Pandemic Full-Grown Dog (which is a lot less catchy).  He’s coming up on his second birthday, and might be in need of a new identity.  

One of the many great qualities of our furry friend Farley is that he is also a fearless fashionista.  He gladly wore the bow tie that my student gave him for Moving Up Day two springs ago.  He had no problems with the saddle and stuffed bronco rider he bore last Halloween.  He enjoys his Washington Capitals jersey (even though, he actually doesn’t find hockey compelling.  He much prefers Triple D and the Great British Bake Off…but I’m digressing).  So, it should not have surprised me that Farley was perfectly agreeable when Nancy presented him with his very own reflective vest. 

Not only did he not object to the vest, he actually let Nancy know that he enjoys it. He prefers to think of it as a cape…as in something a superhero might sport.  Yesterday was our first officially dark morning, so, we got ready a little earlier and thus,  at 6:42, we stepped onto our front doorstep, Nancy with her reflective vest, me with both vest and  headlamp, and mild-mannered Farley, sporting his bright orange “cape.” He had instantly transformed into Safety Dog, that dapper superhero, able to protect us from talking skeletons (as long as they don’t move),  vicious bunnies, (as long as they run the other way), angry, white lapdogs (as long as they’re on a leash), and oncoming commuters (as long as they see us first).  

Cue “Safety Dance.”  Adventure season has begun.

They Give Me Paws

I’m not sure how this one is going to go, but Sarah said that if I’m going to write every day this month, I should try to write shorter and not fuss so much about whether an idea is good or not.  So, this will be a stream of consciousness slice.

This morning as I read other slices, I was struck by how many of the other writers had a plan for the month.  There was a writer who knew that all of her entries would be about what she had learned as a remote teacher, and another who had an abecedarian approach.  I didn’t even know the word, but I did see the early letters of the alphabet in the word.  Sure enough, she’s using an alphabetical list of words to spur each entry.

I had a similar thought when I took a picture of Farley’s paws the other day.  At first I thought I could take a picture each day and use that to fuel my writing.  I may still do that, but I think I’m a bit too random to actually have an orderly plan for the month. 

I do find Farley’s paws intriguing, though.  Here they are:

When he first came to our house at 11 weeks old on the first weekend of our shutdown, we were struck by how outsized they looked on his puppy body.  When he walked through the house, he fairly pounded the floor, slapping his paws onto the hard surface.  It was as though it took great effort to lift them into the air, and then he lacked the energy to set them down gently.  So instead he dropped them.  Like a bomb, a clomp bomb. From my basement office I could hear him galumphing overhead.  Not knowing his true breed, we began referring to him as the Paddle Pawed Pandemic Pup.  

Over the course of this year, he has grown into his paws, and by that I mean he has grown.  And grown.  Most people who see him still take him for a puppy, even though he’s passed his first birthday.  That probably owes to the fact that he’s 90 percent leg. Surely he’ll expand to look more lab-like. Usually their second comment is, “He’s got some Great Dane, huh?”  I’ve stopped being alarmed by this comment.  It’s clear that he is a scaled-down version.  My wife refers to him as a Lesser Dane. 

Still, though he now fits with his paws, and can now walk through the house without registering on the Richter scale, those paws give me pause. 

Seeing his tracks in our snow, at first I thought a bear might have ambled through our yard.


I don’t know why I fixate on them, but I thought this morning that maybe those paws were trying to tell me something.  Maybe my pandemic pup was trying to tell me something.  Those paws in repose in my first picture may have been sending a message in their sound…not the galumph, but the sound-alike word.  

Maybe pause.  

Maybe try not to stress over each inconvenience or deadline or missed opportunity.  Maybe pause.  Maybe circle a few times around an interesting sight.  Maybe flop down on the floor when you find  a sunny spot. Maybe heave a giant cleansing sigh. Maybe empty your mind of any worries.

And pause.

Good boy.