I leave dire notes for the dog-walker. Hi, Mary. He had a restless night. I'll be curious to see if he feels like walking at all today. You might have to carry him up the back stairs.
She writes back perky and hopeful replies. He greeted me with a waggy tail! He was up for a walk around the block at the usual pace! Yay!!!
Mary is our new dog-walker. Well, new since last fall, when Debbie so callously and heartlessly decided to go back to school and get a job that paid better and had benefits and didn't require her to be outdoors in winter, in summer, in rain, in snow, in 99 degrees, in 20 below. Damn her. The boyz still miss her, and when I walk them in the evenings they always stop at her front sidewalk and stare longingly at her house.
She is gentle and kind with the boys and keeps a good eye on Boscoe. She is married to a veterinarian and is used to dealing with special-needs animals; in their own house, they have a dog who has never had the use of his back legs and so gets around on a little rolling cart, and a diabetic, albino squirrel. The squirrel, she told me, is eleven years old. I'd say that becoming diabetic and somehow falling into Mary's care has probably extended his lifespan five fold over the usual squirrel.
Her notes are brief but they fill me with happiness: The boys were very playful today. It was fun to watch.
And, Boscoe wanted to be petted so I did a lot of that. Riley is cool with everything.
Having her come by three times a week to check on the boys, get them outside, let them stretch their legs, is a huge relief to us. Since Boscoe got old, he does much better in the daytime than early morning (he is still balky on breakfast) or after dark (he doesn't much care for that after-dinner walk). But in mid-afternoon he is cheerful and alert, and Riley is thrilled not to be pent up all day long. Doug and I started bringing our lunches to work to save money for the dog walker, and of course the upside of that is that we're eating better, one of us has lost weight (the other of us continues to eat too many Girl Scout cookies), and I use my lunch break for a brisk walk through the Skyways instead of standing in line at a take-out joint.
Don't you hate it when being sensible proves to be more beneficial than being foolish and reckless? But there you are: middle age.
Here's the note I left for Mary this morning: He walked very well last night. Not very hungry this morning, but he seems OK. Let us know.
I'm already looking forward to her answer when I get home tonight.
Update: And here is her note from today: We too had a great walk today. Some playfulness with Riley. They did not want to come inside!
I think that's about as good as it gets, don't you?
A note on the illustrations: R. Nichols does great dog greeting cards. See his website here.