The Walker

Our elderly black lab walks towards me in the dog park

In her elderly years Ellie isn’t able to deal with the heat as well as she used to, so she wants to go on shorter walks in hot weather. After a heat wave had us retreating to the air-conditioned bedroom all week, the weekend dawned with the relief of cooler weather. After we visit the dog park I let Ellie guide me the rest of the way so she’s in control of where and how far we go. She loves our time together so I can generally trust her judgement on when she’s getting too tired and needs to go home – unless she thinks food is waiting at home, then forget it, walks are no longer of interest.

That cool Saturday morning we started off in the dog park then ventured out into the neighborhood like normal, but instead of eventually turning for home she just wanted to keep going and going. We meandered up and down streets but at each intersection she said she wanted to go further. I finally made her head home after an hour and fifteen minutes as she was slowing down and visibly tired, even though she kept asking for one more block, and by the time we reached home it was a new record for her elderly years of 1 hour 20 minutes.

That evening it was warmer but still not hot and she gave me a 45 minute walk. The next morning was also lovely but after going half a block she suggested going back home. I figured she might be a little sore after yesterday’s marathon but asked her to go another two blocks to the park. She agreed and must have limbered up as not only did she not ask to go back but put in another 1 hour 20 minute walk, again with me having to point her back towards home when she was getting too tired.

That evening she again balked after going half a block but started again when I suggested we at least make it to the park, but a few yards later she again asked to go home, so I relented and we headed back home for some head scratches and belly rubs. She had more than earned the time off.

That Monday morning I woke as I often do these days, to Ellie “accidentally” waking me by repeatedly bumping into the mattress with her head. In her younger years she preferred to accidentally wake me by jumping up on the bed and dancing around but that’s a bit much these days, long walks or no. She looks at me with the greatest joy when I climb out of bed so I can’t help but give her a hug, even if I know that part of her excitement is that she is about to get a white dental bone, her favorite treat, while I have breakfast.

This picture is from an unusually hot June when we were at the dog park, I was hoping she’d run towards me but in the heat a saunter was as much as she could muster. I was holding out a treat so I knew she wasn’t faking and I put the camera away and we continued on our walk.

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