Long ago, many years having passed since then, we lived in the great city of Boston, Hub of the Universe. In addition to thousands of books and millions of “little wheels off things,” we accumulated furry friends. Two ferrets (Bonnie and Clyde), one smart, sickly and extraordinary Somali cat, a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, and a Norwich Terrier, both retired show dogs. Of the many critters, only the dogs needed walking … but everyone needed love. And snacks.
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Morning. 6am. Do you know where your dogs are? I do. Divot is tap dancing on my head and growling ferociously. I don’t know how she gets up on the bed. It is 2-1/2 times her height.
Pagan, ever subtle, knows there is one sound which will always get my full attention in a hurry. It’s the sound of teeth crushing plastic. For her morning delicacy, she has chosen an elegant blue disposable razor which she dug out of the wastebasket in the bathroom. Good choice, Pagan!
The dogs are raring to go. To start their day. Once, not long ago, they were separate dogs, merely sharing space. But something happened. They fused into a well-oiled, coördinated team of four-legged terrorists, able to raise the reluctant dead. I admit I shouldn’t have stayed up reading quite so late. Perhaps early might be more realistic. The sun was peeking over the horizon when I finished the final chapter. But golly folks, I’m supposed to have free will, including the right to do stupid, even self-destructive stuff because I am a grown up person and I can do whatever I want. More or less.
The dogs are unimpressed by my arguments, to which they are not listening and if they were, would not understand or care. They just want me up and handing out biscuits. And walks in the neighborhood. Whose idea was this? Oh, right. Mine.
I let them sleep with their leashes attached. It is one less task for me as I stumble through the haze of unfinished dreams into the day. I don’t have to play hide and seek with collars and leashes.
“I need to get dressed before we go out,” I explain as they charge around the room. This is clearly Pagan’s doing. Divot used to be so polite. Now she growls and bites my legs and arms if I don’t dress fast enough. A shower? Don’t kid yourself. These dogs want to GO OUTSIDE NOW. I find a sweatshirt. I find jeans. I’m already wearing socks. Cold feet in the night. Slide into clogs. I’m moving.
Eyeglasses? I fumble for them. The girls are going nuts. The bedroom is a mad whirlwind of zooming PBGV and snapping terrier jaws.Ferocious growls and chuffing mix with my moans of misery. A mere three minutes has passed since the girls decided to get me on my feet, but It seems so much longer. I open the bedroom door and we pour out of the room, nearly crushing Big Guy — our beautiful, sweet Somali cat — who waits patiently by the door. He needs to remind me lest I forget that he gets a can of Fancy Feast before anything else happens.
I am so tired. I didn’t get much sleep. But the girls did. They sleep all the time, saving up energy for moments like this. They are fully charged.
“It’s MORNING MOM!!!!! LET’S GOOOOOOOO!!!!
Stumbling and groaning, we get to the door. I unlatch it and anchored to my wrist, they drag me down the steps, splitting at the foot of the stairs to the right and left. I stand there as my shoulders slowly separate from their sockets while the girls work out the details. Left. They are going left. They drag me to the first of four fields we will visit this morning on our travels where serious business will be conducted.
With the coordination of a marine corps drill team, they perform bodily functions with grace, dancers in the high grass. I would be impressed, but I am looking for someplace to lie down for a little nap.
On to the next field. This is the bird and stray cat field and Pagan who is a scent hound, has reinvented herself as a pointer and general field dog supremo. Divot, the Norwich American Princess, is interested in rats and mice, with an occasional frog for dessert. She likes her frogs still squirming and they are the only snack on the hoof for which she will get her dainty paws damp.
We stalk birds for a while. The stray cats are — wisely — asleep somewhere. How I envy them.
At home I announce, “I’m going back to bed.”
“WE’RE COMING WITH YOU, HUFFA HUFFA.” the girls explain. I go to the bedroom. I drop my jeans by the bed, and still wearing the sweatshirt, I lie down. Divot bounces up.
She is kissing me. She is biting me. Pagan is zooming around and over the bed. She is eating my stockings. She is unearthing all my dirty underwear. In fewer than five minutes, I am defeated. It is over. I am not going to back to bed or to sleep. I’m up for the day. I am mumbling imprecations interspersed with pathetic pleas for coffee.
I am trying to put my jeans back on. Divot, corrupted by Pagan’s PBGV ways, is growling and pulling at my jeans while I try to slide my body into them. I win, but it’s a Pyrrhic victory at best.
And now, at the computer, I have only the cat, purring in the my lap for company. The girls, having accomplished their goal of making sure that I get up on time, are out cold on the sofa. It will be a long day.
Boston Common is more than a park. With the Boston Public Garden adjacent to the common, it forms the green heart of a city that has grown big around the edges, but remains small and cozy at heart.
Friendly ducks, and squirrels will greet you.Friendly people, too. Boston is not New York. It’s got its share of weirdos and crime, but you can talk to strangers; they won’t remain strangers long. Except, maybe leave the Yankees cap back home. Just saying.
Still more neighborhood than metropolis, “The Com” belong’s to everybody in all seasons.
This is summertime, when swan boats circle the pond and sun shines warm.
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