Teddy Makes Friends

Teddy isn’t any fun to walk, and it’s my fault. I’ve worked with him — sit, stay, heel — and he does all of that perfectly at the place where I trained him, but anywhere else? He’s good at “sit.” Good at “wait.” Good at “stay.” But heel? Forget it. Anywhere but the high school parking lot, Teddy is motivated by more important demands than the needs of the little lady at the other end of the leash. I use a halter that is designed to prevent pulling but I wonder if the designer ever tried it. I wish he’d let me use a head collar on him, but no way. The ONLY dog I’ve ever had who refused that, but I think it might be because he’s so low to the ground that the head collar really doesn’t work like it’s supposed to.

Doesn’t matter. I take him out anyway, and while I quickly tire of his pulling me, he has a WONDERFUL time. It’s not all about me, anyway. Yesterday, after I worked on the crane painting for a while, I took Teddy out to the Refuge. Though the time change is annoying and a little uncomfortable, I really do like the early end of afternoon. It means when I head out at my favorite time, the light is already getting good.

It was a beautiful day. The clouds were doing their “Wow, let’s just see what kind of pretty things we can do up here, OK? We have no work to do,” thing, the air was fresh, there was little wind and yeah.

There were thousands of Sandhill Cranes. There were also people. A couple was walking slowly toward Teddy and me so I stopped to the side of the road and studied them to see what they were up to. There were two possibilities. They could have been going to the car nearest them and in front of me, or the car behind me about 1/2 block. Because the cranes kept doing cool things, the couple wasn’t moving very fast. Finally I called out.

“Do you want to meet a friendly little poorly trained dog who will jump up on you and love you to pieces?”

“YES! What’s his name?”

I held Teddy as the people approached. “Just wait, little guy. They’re coming to meet you.” “His name is Teddy. My other dog is named Polar Bear and this is Teddy Bear.”

“Hi Teddy, it’s nice to meet you!” I let Teddy go to the couple and he gave both of them big loves.

We chatted a bit about the cranes that were flying all around us. I love crane conversations. Everyone loves the cranes and a look of wonderment shines in their eyes. They always tell me what they saw and this couple had seen a large group take to the air “…just south of here.”

“I love them,” said the woman. “Their sound is so soothing.”

It is. It’s a beautiful sound between a song and a purr. Whenever I hear it, I look up, look around, try to the source. Yesterday a large group began circling higher and higher, a behavior I’ve learned means, “Sayonara, sweet heart. We’re heading out!” Though their beautiful white/gray forms spun ever and ever higher, smaller and smaller, their calls drifted to me through the lucid day as if the birds were right beside me. The refuge can be that silent. The air that clear.