Hank Williams Jr. (no comma in the name), as you may know, is our dog.
Every day Hank and I take at least two walks. The morning walk is partly for him and partly for me – I set the route and the pace, and he has to keep up with me. But Hank is a lab/shepherd cross and, although he’s pretty mellow, he dearly loves getting out to freely roam the neighborhood for a good long sniff.
Preferably all by himself when no one is keeping tabs on him.
Well, I worry about Hank getting hit out there – because, dang it, I’ve never been able to teach him to look both ways before crossing the street. And then there is the little institution known as Animal Control, which is pretty active in enforcing the leash laws in our town.
So, in lieu of Hank going on the lam and possibly ending up in the canine poky, he and I take a daily, mid-day ramble. He’s still on his leash, but I basically follow where he wants to go for about 20 minutes so that he can sniff everything to his heart’s content. (Bonus for me is 20 minutes of fresh air in the middle of my work day.)
We enjoyed the spring-like temps and sunshine of a few days ago. So did all the other dogs in the neighborhood – many of whom were out in their fenced-in yards. As we walked one alley, we came up to a yard with a rather low fence and two small, stocky dogs running toward us. I am not good at identifying breeds, and these might have been mixed breeds, but they definitely seemed to have some bulldog of some kind in them. And they did not like Hank sniffing on the other side of THEIR fence. Hackles were raised, teeth were bared, snarling was heard. Hank looked startled at first because he generally gets along well with other dogs. And clearly, these dogs did not like him one bit. After his first shock, Hank raised his own hackles and started barking at them. They barked back. And so it went.
I started yanking on the leash, glad there was a fence between the two malcontents and my affronted pup.
Eventually I got Hank away, but not before those two hoodlums ran the entire length of their fence, barking madly as we made our way down the alley. “And stay out!” was what I heard them saying.
So, off we go down another block, this time on the sidewalk. There are fewer dogs left in front yards than in back yards, so perhaps the rest of our walk can be peaceful.
Passing a house on a corner, I see a fluffy little something or other coming to the front gate. White fur sporting a topknot tied with a purple ribbon. Cute, I think. But then it was like “déjà vu all over again” – hackles raised, teeth bared, snarling heard. Once again Hank is startled as he sniffs from his side of the fence. Once again he starts barking in reply. Once again I am yanking him along.
By now I’m ruing the spring-like weather that's brought out all the dogs. And Hank’s feelings are hurt. I know this because he pretty much stops sniffing and heads steadily for home -- with two potty breaks along the way on the sacred ground of other neighborhood dogs.
“Take that!” is what I heard.