Monday, July 16, 2018

Taking Manda for a Walk

         Taking Manda for a Walk
                            By Valerie L. Egar

         I take Manda for a walk every day, even when it rains.
If she dawdles, I let her know, it’s time to go, NOW. After all, I’ve waited all day. She is very obedient and runs to get my leash.
“OK, Boo Boo,” she says, jingling my leash, “I’m ready.” She calls me ‘Boo Boo’ when she feels all lovey-dovey and ‘Biscuit Breath,’ when she teases me, but most of the time she calls me ‘Sky.’ When she calls me ‘Skylar,’ I know I’m in trouble. She never calls me by my full name, which is Klondike’s Countess Skylar of Cave Creek, but I never call her by her full name, Amanda Nicole Dawson, either. I call her  ‘Manda’ which sounds like this: “Ow ooooow oof.”
Once we are out the door, I pull her towards the park. It’s not a playground park, it’s a nature park with hiking trails. I always sniff the air and lead her to the trail that smells best. Sometimes I pick the one that circles the pond because I like seeing geese scuttle into the water when they see me coming. Other times we walk through the woods. She listens to the birds and I watch squirrels.
My favorite trail is the one cut through a meadow. The air smells sweet and today butterflies flutter among the flowers that grow there— daisies, black-eyed Susans, goldenrod, thistle. I find a box turtle and gently pick it up to take home.

   “No, Sky, leave her here.”
            But I love turtles! I shake my head no.
            “Put her down, Sky.”
            The turtle is closed up tight in her shell. She could live in the backyard and be my friend. Best of all, I found her myself! I shake my head no.
            “Skylar, put the turtle down, now.”
            Reluctantly, I put her on the grass. Manda moves her off the trail, near where I found her. We watch as the turtle slowly emerges from her shell and makes her way into the meadow. I am not happy.
            Manda pats my head. “She lives here, Sky. She’s happy here.”
            I pretend not to hear and pull Manda along. Sometimes I imagine I’m pulling a sled and that’s what I do— head down, cold Arctic wind blowing on my face, I swiftly glide over the icy tundra.
            “Whoa, Sky, slow up!”
            Oh. Right. Manda is running to keep up. I slow my pace.
            Coming towards us, I see Wally, a Dalmatian, taking his person for a stroll. Wally always brags about sitting on the fire truck in every parade, so I puff out my chest, raise my tail high in the air and march as though I’m leading the parade. I can’t look behind me, but I hope Manda is marching, too.
            Wally nods and I nod back.  When they turn the corner, I relax.
            Manda picks up a stick and offers it to me. “Want it?”
            She should know better. Huskies don’t play with sticks, but she might need it because the grass is getting higher on each side as I’m leading Manda through the African plains. It’s awfully hot and dangerous, too. Lions. Tigers. I stay close to protect her, and when a huge ostrich— well, wild turkey— flies right in front of us, we both jump.

            Whew. That was a close one.
            When we arrive home, Manda gives me a biscuit, a big one that tastes like peanut butter. “Sorry about the turtle, Boo Boo,” she says and I forgive her because she’s Manda and I love her very much.
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.
Published July 15, 2018 Biddeford Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME).


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