Friday, April 25, 2008

Anatomy of a Walk

My eyes were squinty today because the sun was shining during my walk. It is still chilly compared to what it should be but I managed with a sweatshirt over a long sleeved t-shirt rather than my usual winter jacket over sweatshirt. My Apolo makes me laugh because I swear I could do my walk blindfolded and he would lead me along the way just fine UNLESS he spotted an unexpected squirrel or cat or something else I will explain below.

1. When I put on my sweats or pick up my shoes, Apolo starts hopping all over the place with excitement. And then I ask him if he wants to go on a walk and the minute he hears the word "walk" he cries and bounces and acts like it is the first walk he has ever taken in his life.

2. We go out the back door and he bounds to the gate waiting for me to leash him. Once I catch up and open the gate, he charges toward the front lawn where he rolls and scratches his face and back.

3. Once he is finished grooming himself, we take off down the sidewalk and I look up in the trees where our resident bald eagles sit and fish. Often they are squawking and I am thankful Apolo is too big for their talons.

4. I try to keep Apolo from "watering" all of the neighbors' bushes. After a few houses, he pulls me across the street to walk on the otherside until he gets to his place to "go" and I reach in my pocket for my handy Seattle Times pink bag.

5. Off we go down Marine View Drive. I peak between the houses to see if I see any whale spouts or interesting boats all the while keeping my eyes open for cats and squirrels. If Apolo sees such a creature first and takes off with me, I could die. Sometimes I jog a little in this stretch.

6. We then reach the "Character's" (my name for him) house. A goofy St. Bernard bounds out to the edge of the invisible fenced yard to greet us with aggressive barking. Sometimes Apolo decides to charge him pulling me into the street; Apolo gets in big trouble if he does this and is required to heel without freedom at my side for a number of blocks while I call him naughty. It used to be that "Character" had a friend and I would talk to both "Characters." St. Bernard's buddy was a smaller old black dog whose hind legs were wobbly. Even so, that dog was clearly in charge of the big goofy guy. He would herd him and snip at him and bark in his ear. A couple of weeks ago, the old dog couldn't run to the edge of the yard any longer and would bark at us from his pillow in the driveway. He hasn't been there at all lately so I can only guess.....! Just one Character now.

7. Across the street from Character's house, I noticed a little brown bunny the other day. Oh my, Apolo had never seen such an animal in his life and wanted a closer look. I do believe I saved the bunny's life by tugging with all of my strength on the leash. Today, in the exact same spot was a white rabbit with brown spots. I was a tad confused but Apolo was just as interested and the rabbit did not seem frightened of my 90 lb. dog. "Apolo, LEAVE IT!" Eventually, Apolo minds but not without significant pulling on my part. Whew. Weird.

8. The next marker on our walk is the new mansion. They have a golden retriever and often the woman is pulling out of the gated driveway as I walk by. Today, the car window was open and oh my, he woofed and woofed at Apolo. Up a hill we go and through a woodsy cut off over a gulch and into another neighborhood.

9. This part of the walk contains a long hill with good views from the top. Lots of workers from a local business walk in this area and always someone comments about what a happy dog I have. Brand new view houses are being quickly built. The other day a man in a truck stopped to ask me if this was a nice area. "Excuse me? What do you mean?" He then explained he had lost a lot of money in the housing market on the east coast and was planning to move here. He thought he would rent for a year and then figure out where to buy. He was asking me about housing prices. I detected a strong New York accent. Evidently, he had spotted me about a mile and a half back.

10. We turn around and go back through the cut off and look at the creek. I get mad when I see people have dumped yard clippings in a spot that could be so pretty. Salmon could be in this creek if people cared. We head for the final steep hill where they have torn down an entire house. A church friend lives across the street and I know he did not like the fact the house was vacant and dilapidated. I think it had been infested with raccoons. We saw one on the roof the other day before the tear down and Apolo goes nuts in this spot smelling in the drainage pipes. Today, I saw two people I assumed were architects looking at the site. Nice view.

11. Almost home again and Apolo teases a little white dog who watches us everyday from their glass front door. Apolo sneaks into their driveway and then woofs at the dog to get a reaction. We trudge through a wooded area at the top of Big Gulch. This is a dead end to two streets and is home to two more barking puppies. Mapquest and every single vehicle navigation system tell people to drive through this walking path to get to our street. Whenever we have a delivery or an event at our house, people call us from the foot path at the top of the hill, "mapquest took us to this dead end," or "my car gps told me to drive on a gravel path barricaded with posts!"

12. Finally, we walk down the steep part of my street which has turned into a skateboarder's luge. I am finding this situation to be frightening because teenage boys zoom past my house going 30 mph without helmets. Around a curve they skid at the bottom and it is only a matter of time before they smash into a car, truck, or the mailboxes. When this happens, it will be me who has to call 911 and then run out with rags to stop the bleeding.

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Skateboard Luge in front of my house.

Unfortunately, two days in a row this week, the Seattle area has had two separate skateboard accidents. One boy, age 15, had to be airlifted to Harborview, Seattle's trauma center and the other young man, a 19 year old UW student, lost his life. Please---I do not want this to happen on my street.