Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dog Tales: William's Walk

Today, we mark the end of National Dog Week with a William story.

Once upon a time, William and I took two longs walks every day. Now, given William's advanced age (he's 15, possibly 16) and growing infirmity, we usually take only one walk and not a very long one at that--maybe only a block or so in any direction from our house. But the beautiful autumn weather has invigorated William. Yesterday, when we set off for a walk in the late afternoon, the destination was LICK. It was a perfect day for ice cream, and I had skipped lunch. My intention was to take a fairly direct route, but William had a different itinerary in mind--up Allen to the courthouse, across to Warren, then back down Warren, stopping at all the places where he has the expectation of treats.

Soon after we reached Warren Street and had started the westerly leg of our journey, we met a beautiful, friendly black and white dog in a dog wheelchair, out with his people. While the dog and William exchanged sniffs and got acquainted, I asked the human at the end of the leash about the dog's mobility problem. It turned out the dog had degenerative myelopathy. William is now showing early signs of that condition, and it was heartening to see how happy and adjusted the dog was with wheels standing in for his enfeebled hind legs and how oblivious William was to there being anything unusual about this dog.

As we continued on down Warren Street, William loitered in front of Tortillaville, as he is wont to do, just long enough for Brian to catch sight of him and call out his name. As William tugged me toward the back of shiny food truck, Brian emerged with William's favorite food: Tortillaville chicken! I chatted with Brian as William scarfed down the treat, but then Brian had to attend to customers. Thanking him, William and I headed on down the street.

As we were about to enter Hudson Wine Merchants--another of William's regular treat stops--a woman noticed William's characteristic head tilt and asked me if he had had old dog vestibular disease. Her dog, she said, had suffered from the same malady, and we commiserated about how frightening it is for humans, how miraculous it seems when the dogs recover, and how resilient they are. All the while, William was standing at the door of the wine shop, waiting, and when we finally entered, Kathleen graciously provided the eagerly anticipated treats.

At last, we reached our goal, LICK, where William had his usual: Betsy's Bow Wow. While ordering our ice cream, I noted that our ice cream days are numbered. The last day of the season for LICK is October 14, Columbus Day. Avery served William his ice cream while we were still in the shop, and it was a bit of a struggle getting it away from him again so we could go outside and sit together on the sidewalk enjoying our ice cream and the glorious day.

When William had finished his ice cream (he finished first), I thought it was time to head on home. It had been a bountiful afternoon for William. He'd had chicken and dog treats and ice cream, and I figured he was ready for a nap. When we got to Bruno's, however, I realized William had further expectations. Even though Bruno's was closed, William seemed convinced that if he stood by the door and waited, Shannon or Wendy would magically appear . . . with chicken! Alas, although he loitered at the door for an embarrassingly (for me) long time, no one came forth.

I am aware that my expansive explanations of why things can or cannot happen have always been pretty much lost on William, but now that it's painfully clear that William is totally deaf, even the one word whose meaning I was quite certain he understood--closed--is lost on him. We made an amusing sight for the men playing chess on the sidewalk outside Jayre's Salon as I alternately gently tugged and patiently propelled my aged dog, who seemed determined to wait in front of Bruno's until Monday morning if need be, along the street. 

We finally did make it home, where chores awaited me, but in fits and starts, and it was clear that William wanted more than anything to tarry outside for the rest of the afternoon and long into the evening. 


  1. Neat. I was lucky enough to be one of William's wavers (as in, "Hi William and Carole") along this splendid walk. Bow & wow! to you both.

  2. Now that I have a cat, my friends with dogs must visit me on their own - so now articles about wonderful Wm. are a particular pleasure.