Monday, October 4, 2010

Walking the Dogs

As long as I have lived with HB, it has been part of my morning routine to walk the dog(s). HB has always been one to wake up and leave the house within ten or fifteen minutes, whereas I like to take my time in the morning: have some breakfast, read my e-mail. Walking the dogs is just a natural thing for me to do.

In Florida, walking the dogs in the morning became one of my favorite things to do. I would get up around 7:15, which was usually pretty close to sunrise and stand on the sidewalk in the slightly cool, early-morning Florida air, watching the mourning doves on the telephone wires, or the ibises grazing in the field. Since I didn't have to be to work until 9:00, the morning walks for the dogs were never rushed, unless it was raining.

All that has changed since we moved to Tortola. What used to be a relaxing moment of pause in my day has become the most stressful part of my routine. The apartment building where we live does not have a yard. It does not have a grassy area nearby, or a field of any sort. Walking the dogs involves walking them along the road in front of the house

As you can see, the road in front of our house (house on the left) does not have any nice, relaxing, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, or manicured lawns. It has bush along one side, with some tall grass where the dogs can do their business. The other thing it has, although not pictured here, is a lot of traffic. After all, this is Ridge Road, the third busiest highway on Tortola (after the Coastal Highway and North Coast Road), and it is especially busy from 7:30 to 9:00 in the morning; about the right time for the dogs' a.m. walk.

The morning walk consists of dashing across the road between oncoming cars, and pressing myself and the dog against the bush. The dogs have a fondness for darting out into the road after they're done, stressful enough in itself. But recently, both of the dogs have developed a strong dislike of the roadway, probably because they're picking up on my stress and worry that they'll be hit by one of the SUVs thundering past. As a result, lately, when I try to walk them along the road, they do what Flash is doing in the picture below: they freeze up in the middle of the road and dig their claws into what slim purchase they can get on the asphalt, refusing to pass the centerline of the road.

With charming timing, they often do this when a car is barreling down on us, and so I have to run quickly back to the safety of the parking lot, dragging the dog behind me the entire time. Once I finally get the dogs to do what they need to do, I come in the house exhausted from stress, and sweating from the obstacle course that walking the dogs has become.

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