I know that it will be awhile before spring officially arrives. I’m guessing there will be a cold snap and a snowstorm or two before it completely warms up, but we were blessed with a wonderful weekend. The first weekend of March was the “Dog Days of Winter” celebration up the Gunflint Trail. Last weekend could well have been the “Dog Days of Spring” at my house.
My husband Chuck and I took advantage of the springlike day on Sunday and took a short walk up County Road 7 to County Road 13 in Grand Marais—known as either Olson Brothers Road, Lamson Farm Road, or Fall River Road—depending on what generation you’re from. It’s a short walk for our “puppy”—almost twoyear old heeler/border collie mix Trouble—but too long for our almost 14-year-old golden retriever Fearless.
So we took the puppy on the walk with us, which usually isn’t a problem. Old dog Fearless doesn’t pay too much attention to what Trouble is doing. He’s hard of hearing and doesn’t see well, so we can normally get the leash on Trouble and get out the door without him noticing. For some reason, that was not the case this day. When he saw us getting her pink leash, Fearless lumbered down the basement stairs and sat stubbornly in front of the door.
He really wanted to go for a walk, but we know that he can barely walk to the end of our driveway, much less the half mile or so to County Road 13, so I gave him a big hug and petted him and said, “Stay.”
I felt terrible making him stay home. He watched sadly out the glass door as we walked down the driveway with the hyper puppy. The walk with her was fun because she’s a bit like Tigger of Winnie-the-Pooh, springing along beside us with a doggy grin; sniffing furiously and chasing pebbles and bits of ice. She could have walked—bounced—for miles.
When we got home, Fearless was still awake and watching, so I decided to take him for a short walk. I headed back down the driveway with both dogs, with Fearless walking slowly, painstakingly placing his old paws, while Trouble bounced and danced and had to be reminded frequently to heel.
As we headed down hill on the driveway, Fearless actually jogged a bit, a happy golden retriever smile on his gray muzzle. When we got to the bottom of the driveway and went to turn around, Fearless resisted. I swear he looked longingly up County Road 7. Was he remembering the hundreds of walks we had taken with him since puppyhood?
Although he was huffing and puffing, I couldn’t refuse. We crossed the road as quickly as I could get him across and walked slowly up the road for a little while. I figured we’d go as far as our neighbor’s driveway and turn around, but then I remembered how Fearless likes to splash in the water by the big culvert at the curve in the road, so we went a little farther.
The culvert was still frozen and snow-covered, but both dogs enjoyed sniffing the spot. Fearless was a bit shaky getting through the ditch’s deep snow as we returned to the road, but his eyes were bright and he still wore a grizzled dog smile. But I figured that was enough of a walk.
We retraced our steps, with the puppy leading the way and the old dog plodding along, slowing the process even more with much sniffing and attempting to eat dried grass.
Although the puppy could have probably gone on a third hike up and down the road, it was good enough. I was glad I didn’t have to carry a 70-pound plus dog home. And Fearless seemed more than happy to get inside to collapse in his favorite sleeping spot in the living room.
It was a good enough adventure for the start of the dog days of spring.
Of course what he most intensely dreams of is being taken out on walks, and the more you are able to indulge him the more will he adore you and the more all the latent beauty of his nature will come out.