Friday, January 8, 2010

Memory, Pulling

Walking is chaos, not peace. Such is the case, anyway, when walking Zeke. It all starts when I get a pair of socks from my dresser drawer. This is The Sign. It means I'm not going to school, not going out to socialize with others, but I'm going out with him. The sight of socks sets into motion great leaps of anticipation along with a few "woo-woo's."

Then I put on my shoes. The trick is, I can't put them on the floor. If I do, he grabs them and races around the house with them. So I have to hide them behind my back. All the while, he is alternately keening and huffing and puffing and lunging at whichever shoe I happen to be tying.
This is my fault. When I first brought him home from Helping Hands, I was into running. And I thought it would be cool to teach him how to get my shoes for me. I wasn't thinking. I did not know he would bring a shoe to me no matter whether I planned on running or not. I did not know that he would continue bringing one shoe and then another and then another--convinced that, if he brought the right shoe, we would run. Suffice it to say, one cannot let shoes lounge around this house.

Zeke follows me across the kitchen floor to the pantry, where I go to get 3 bags from the poop bag supply. Yes three. One has never been an option, and the couple times I went out with 2 bags, he managed to perform again in a yard, leaving me unprepared. In fact, I had to pull a MacGyver and take the plastic sleeve off a stray Moneysaver and use that. And I had an audience. The homeowner of the yard Zeke had chosen stared out the window, his arms folded in front of his chest. And as I was finagling the waste into the bag, the owner leaned out his screen door and yelled, "I hope you plan on cleaning that up!" He couldn't help himself.
So keeping this uber poop conscious neighbor in mind as well as knowing that Zeke has some sort of supernatural poop producing capabilities, I take 3 bags, which I shove in a coat pocket or in handwarming compartment of my favorite sweatshirt.

And this adds considerable bulk. Visually I gain a few pounds, which is disconcerting, considering that I'm walking to lose a few pounds. And with that we're off. There is no such thing as heeling. Zeke launches to the very end of the leash and digs in. The pose he strikes is much like those strong men you see pulling cars with a chain. He hunkers down, determined. This determination often also results in a sideways lean. He very much wants to dictate which side of the street we walk on. One side smells better, I guess. One side needs to be marked more than the other.

His determination is squashed periodically when another dog barks. This sends him into psychosis on a grand scale. The first time I ever heard there were dog psychologists, I laughed. But I'm not laughing now. If I had the money we'd go. Zeke, part pitbull, is scared. Every time a dog barks, Zeke hunkers down even more and pulls with all the fear in his heart. And I can't shake the need to go all pop psychology. I wonder if he had a good relationship with his mom and dad. Was there some sort of crisis in his puppyhood that scarred him for life? I wonder if there isn't some dark secret hiding in his puppy closet. Was he the puppy from the wrong side of the tracks? Did he get into fights? Or maybe he was bullied (or bull-dogged). I don't know, but it's put the fear of Dog in him.

What I find most interesting is that he fears dogs that aren't there. He fears the memory of dogs. For instance, we go past a yard that used to contain two German Shepherds. Maybe they came out last summer. Maybe they no longer live there. Maybe they are warm inside with their owners. But Zeke still reacts as if they are out in the yard and barking. He pulls. He chokes. He makes me look like an asshole to cars who are driving by. He makes me say, "Would you stop?" He pulls maybe 100 feet beyond that particular yard with the ghost dogs, and then he is normal.

The same is true with his girlfriend. Yes, I am anthropomorphizing, but I believe this would be his girl or baby mama if they had access to each other. She shoots out the dog door, races down the ramp they've made especially for her and sets into motion doggy whirling dervishes. If she was human, she'd be a cheerleader for sure, or at least the popular girl on campus. She's a Lassie dog, a collie with flowing locks and a svelte figure. He wants her, so again the pulling commences. And truthfully, it makes me sad when she doesn't come out. He pulls us to the memory of her.

Which leads me to my main realization for the day. I'm not that different. I'm haunted. I alternately hunker down and try to get as far as I can from the things that scare me, yet I pull hard to get back to what I want--I pull toward beauty. Or a least the memory of beauty. I pull toward the hope that I can get the beauty back. I pull wondering if there ever was any beauty, or if it was a ghost or something I conjured. I pull feeling pissed off that beauty seems to be just beyond where the leash will let me go.

I know. I'm leashless. But more and more, I understand that memory is its own sort of leash. Sometimes it's a comfort to be led. Other times, I feel like I'm being choked.

1 comment:

  1. As a part-time dog-sitter for a bad walker (mostly Bernese mountain dog and muy, muy fuerte) I identify closely with the impulse to psychologize each weird behavior. All writerly, I'm like, "what's her MOTIVATION"?