Local Canine Adjusts to Shelter in Place

Local Canine Adjusts to Shelter in Place

I am worried about the Old Man. For one thing he sits quietly at his typing machine way too much. Poking him with my cold nose to get him going is not working as well as usual.

We’re going on at least three walks a day, which is great, but he is acting strange when we are out. Instead of walking up to neighbors to say “Hi,” we cross the street to avoid them. He waves, but doesn’t corner them to impart his worldly insights as he usually does. When he does stop to talk we’re across the street or at least leash length from everyone.

And when the old guy encountered two exuberant young women with their two unleashed small dogs the other day he hurried me away so I couldn’t meet my fellow pups for a proper sniff. I was alarmed. This is completely out of character for his lordship who loves to chat with the ladies.

One of our regular routes has changed, another odd thing. We are going to Jean Sweeney Open Space Park more often these days (one of my favorites) because it is wide and a mile long with lots of untamed places for me to seek wild cats, squirrels and lizards. The playground that’s usually full of children is empty and there’s yellow tape everywhere. 

That’s not to say the park is not well used these days, it’s different, instead of big groups of visiting neighbors there are singles, couples and families walking and wheeling. Bicyclists, skateboarders and my favorite, in-line skaters glide along the bike lanes. 

Today I saw a family of skaters, a mom, dad and two daughters. The dad wowed us all by skating backwards, while the 10-year-old gracefully kept pace. The patient mom held the hand of the six-year-old, keeping her upright as she slid and stumbled. Had to wag my tail at they laughed and skated by.

I usually annoy the Old Man because I take my time stopping and sniffing, but recently the tables have been turned. Now he is the one who constantly stops, dawdles and stares at flowers, blooming trees and the wonderful comments chalked by our sidewalk writer. 

The other day a worker was up a tree cutting branches with a noisy machine. My oldster halted and stared as branches toppled to the ground. The tree man nimbly darted around his leafy victim as it shrank. I thought I would never get him moving.
Another thing: we are not visiting friends all of a sudden. Our good friend and neighbor Lenny, is always good for an excellent rubdown. I know which house is Lenny’s, but the Old Man just passes by. We even walk right past the dog park without stopping!

Here’s the clincher: You know something is wrong when we skipped our weekly meeting of AOMU (Alameda Old Men United) at the Alameda Island Brewery. Old codgers get together to eat cake, drink beer and solve the world’s problems. I am not the only dog, although I am the smallest and only mutt, happy-go-lucky Millie, a Bernese Mountain dog, and goofy Leo the gleeful white German Shephard and I work the old men for treats with great success. We didn’t go this week.

Oddly there is less noisy car traffic these days, which make our strolls easier and less dangerous. Just the other day though, at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Bay Street, the Old Man’s normal self reappeared for a moment when two polite drivers stopped to let us cross, getting a tip of his hat from the Old Man. (His regular custom these days.) Suddenly a third car behind them swerved and screeched to a stop into the curbside parking lane. 

Once we safely crossed all three drivers hit the gas simultaneously. The driver in the parking lane floored it and was immediately in a pickle and had to slam to a halt again to avoid hitting the parked car in front of her or swerving into one of the polite drivers. The Old Man went off, waving and berating the reckless driver. He was back! I was happy to see there is still some life in the old guy and glad there were no children to hear him.

I am now curled up at the Old Man’s feet, while he types. It seems to make him feel better. He sighs a lot and scratches my head. I reckon it is my job and every Alamedan’s (even cats) right now, to be kind to each other until life returns to normal.

Now is the right time for all of us to stop, sniff and enjoy spring and our little town.