Greta demands adherence to the letter of her contract. Adherence to the spirit doesn’t cut it. She illustrated the point recently on the day of the mountain hike.
Greta’s contract calls for her person to accompany her on two daily walks: one in the morning, one in late afternoon or evening. The hour is flexible on the evening walk. She finds it acceptable to walk earlier during the winter, preferably before dark so the walker doesn’t have to worry about slipping on black ice. The walkee, equipped with four feet, isn’t as concerned about falling, but does want to be alert for any winter-ranging squirrels that might be out during daylight hours. On summer evenings, the walk is delayed so neither of us has to pant so hard in the heat.
Greta prefers to choose the walk route. She knows we’ll be going around the subdivision, but she wants to make the decision on whether we turn right or left out of the driveway. If we turn right, she knows she can make another right at the end of the cross street and go up the hill to Max’s house.
Her new friend Max is a border collie, http://www.akc.org/breeds/border_collie/index.cfm. It’s redundant to say he is a lively border collie. Is there any other kind? Greta starts murmuring preliminary “mmm, mmm’s” when we are two houses down from Max’s home. She also tugs on the leash, which is a violation. If Max is out in his yard, he and Greta romp. They pee on bushes and race around the house. They stop abruptly and reverse direction. Max has a big Oscar the Grouch toy, but they don’t usually play with it.
When Max is available, the walk is good. When he can’t come out to play, Greta cries for a while and then we move on.
Other contract clauses include the person’s obligation to provide two square meals a day, adequate water, a steady supply of rawhide chews and a bedtime snack that must include a Milk Bone® or sweet potato biscuits. Free medical care is included.
Of course, no contract is valid unless each party gives something and gets something. There is nothing here for Greta to give in her area of specialization; no ducks to toll. So she has become head of security. It’s a tough job. You have to nap with one ear open, staying alert for squirrels, rabbits, other dogs walking by and the occasional human intruder.
One recent day that was late-winter golden, with a sky so deeply blue it looked like you could dive into it and swim forever, I decided to go for a hike in the Catoctin Mountains, http://www.nps.gov/cato/index.htm. We had been out for Greta’s morning walk earlier, but she is good company on a hike. She doesn’t talk too much, doesn’t want to know if there is an alternate route that might be better.
Greta and I trudged up the side of the mountain until we reached an overlook where the valley stretched away below to distant mist-blued hills. It was peaceful and serene there, in the way that most everyday days are not. Soul-refreshed, we headed back down. We hadn’t met any wildlife, other than a lone woodpecker busy at a tree, but Greta had checked all the important scents.
The sun was slanting into evening when we returned home. I was tired, so I suggested to Greta that we just play a bit in the back yard. We would skip the evening walk.
She wasn’t buying. After the back yard playtime, she tried to take me down the driveway to the street. When I refused to go, she came inside, but would not settle down. She stood by the door expectantly, gazing up at me.
“Mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm,” said Greta. Clearly, it was a contract issue. The wording in paragraph 3 guaranteed an evening walk. It was now evening. Greta was ready to walk. What was the problem?
We compromised on a shortened walk around the block, which Greta found acceptable, if not perfect.
In dogic (dog logic), a deal is a deal.