when i walk the dogs, riley trots ahead of me at a pretty good clip. he's extremely alert, watching the squirrels, keeping an eye out for rabbits, scanning the sky for crows and canada geese.
boscoe lags behind. sometimes he lopes along a good ten feet behind me.
this is not because he's old, or tired. it's because he's trolling. on walks, boscoe likes to keep an eye out for stray food.
he knows he has a slightly better chance of gobbling down whatever he finds if he is behind me, where i can't see him. if he's where i can see him, i always holler, drop it!
words to sear a hungry border collie's heart.
boscoe has an uncanny ability to find edible stuff--well, you and i might not think it's edible, but he does. Burger King wrappers. goose poop. small bits of tree bark. that's all standard fare for him.
once, he found a glazed doughnut at the end of the block. head down, grab! he prepared to swallow.
drop it! i said, and he did, with enormous regret and reproach in his brown eyes, and an admirable sense of obedience.
for weeks--no, for months afterward, he'd pick up the pace whenever we approached that corner. just in case that glazed doughnut was still there.
another time, on a summer morning, he found a steak, god bless him--an entire grilled steak, on a sheet of charred tinfoil, over by the charcoal burners at the West Picnic Grounds. yes, we made him drop it. has he forgiven us yet? i'm not entirely sure.
he has found pizza. he has found bagels. he has found hamburger buns (oddly hamburgerless). he has found french fries and chicken wings and white cardboard containers of Thai food. he is amazing.
toby never found food on the walk. toby found tennis balls--old rotten tennis balls buried in the mud, or the snow.
riley has found food occasionally, but it always surprises him--he does a funny little doubletake and then gets ready to pounce, but by then we've dragged him away.
boscoe, though, expects to find food. it's his destiny.
i was thinking about this two days ago on the evening walk. it was January thaw, and the sidewalks were slick, which distracted me. as i struggled to keep my footing, i felt boscoe drop back--always a cause for suspicion.
i turned and saw something white and flat and round hanging out of his mouth.
he wasn't a bit surprised. by now, neither was i.
drop it! i said, and he dropped it, and we walked on.