The leaves changed in here Buffalo in that last week or two. An orangey road glow replaces the striking sun to shadow dichotomy of summer. Bowers formed by century-grown wrinkled and twisted tree branches, trimmed into arches over the sidewalks, allow a little more of the post autumnal equinox sun through so that there is a gloaming rather than pools of shade. Miss Tibbit and Hamish kick up leaves as they trot along, noses in the air to catch the damp scents.
Fall dog walks joyously beautiful. They are peaceful. The fair-weather dog walkers have abandoned the parks and streets and Miss Tibbit has fewer dog friends to yowl toward. Hamish has fewer challengers to his tiny and vulnerable Corgi dignity. Yet, fall dog walks are fraught with danger.
It is a social danger, sure, but no less frightening for that. It is all Hamish’s fault.
As you may know from past chronicles, Hamish is a Master of the Craft of Display Defecation. His joy in his craft is unsubtle. A car full of family returning home from a long day at work? What an excellent opportunity for a drive-side event. I stand and wait, blue bag on my hand, in a public demonstration of my intention to clean up. As Hamish finishes, he eyes me and smiles, steps forward and kicks with his ears up and his mouth wide in a doggie grin. His tiny back legs do a little stiff legged dance – left, right, left, right – pause – and one more time. I’m sure I’ve described it before.
The practical effect of his charming act during these serene fall walks? He covers his deposit in layers of leaves, which are shaded just the same as his…well I don’t want to be overly vulgar. I think you know what I am implying. I am left with a car full of homeowners observing us and a yard full of brown, gold, orange leaves with something unpleasant to extract.
I sigh, wrap the leashes tight around my free hand, and start pawing through the leaves. “Miss Tibbit,” I call, “Come help me find this.” She ignores me. Hamish is 15 feet down the sidewalk, already planning his next event. Hamish deposits , kicks, and moves on – job done. He sees no need to linger in the area. The longer I crouch in someone’s front yard, pushing leaves around, the less likely I am to find the prize. I can feel the family of observers losing confidence that I will provide a satisfactory conclusion to our so far benign neighborly transaction.
I won’t tell you how adept I have become at “finding” what Hamish has left behind. I’m not proud of it. But sometimes a person has to make morally ambiguous compromises. The fall dog walkies are beautiful, but they are filled with peril.