So, Malcolm knows SIT, he knows DOWN, he knows GO LIE DOWN, he knows SHAKE, and he’s learning UP for getting into the car and onto the bed, and ROLL OVER about 20% of the time. And he knows NO.
He does not know COME.
Justin’s sick today, lying in bed feeling miserable, feverish, nauseated. Poor guy. I keep bringing him soup and water and crackers, but there’s not much I can do for him. It’s a bug, he’ll kick it off eventually, life goes on, be kind to him and wait it out.
One thing I can do, though, even 32 weeks pregnant, is walk the dog so Mr. Sick doesn’t have to. It’s not awesome, as putting on my boots is becoming a trial with this belly in the way, and I can’t walk fast or far right now. But I can do it. That is, until said dog hears or sees something in the woods and takes off at a full-out run and doesn’t listen when I call him to come back. When he gets that distraction of something truly dog-interesting — a deer, coyotes, another dog, strange people who haven’t petted him yet — it’s as though I don’t exist.
The same dog who, earlier in the afternoon, was belly-up for petting and tail-waggingly leaning on me with love in his eyes. That dog. And my calls and clapping and wheedling meant nothing. In the blink of an eye he was out of sight in the woods and silence reigned.
I pulled out my phone. Texted Justin in his sickbed. “He just bolted into the woods.”
The return text from the sickbed? “Stay where you are. Call and clap. I’m coming.”
And out he came, boots and wool pants and a sweatshirt, looking like death warmed over. I’ve never regretted being immobilized by the awkwardness of pregnancy more than in that moment. I gave him the Carhartt I was wearing, and headed to the house to get a coat for myself, and gloves and a hat for him, as he walked into the woods to track our dog.
In any other year, I could have done it. I was dressed for it, I’m capable of it. But not today. Not off-balance, with one hip that won’t sit in its socket right and a shoulder that doesn’t seem to know it even has a socket, and every other joint stretching to the point of near-dislocation from the relaxin. Not weighing an extra 25 pounds carried in the most awkward place possible for activity. Not with three inches of fluffy snow on top of an inch of ice covering the ground. Not without my inhaler, in the last days of December. Not this time. Not today.
And so I did nothing useful while Justin spent 20 minutes tracking the dog. The dog who, upon being found, was thrilled to have a playmate in his forest romping. (Because FORESTS. ARE. AMAZING. YOU GUYS.) The dog who’s getting obedience training — focused on COME and STAY — as soon as we can manage it.
All I could say as I clipped Mal’s leash to his collar and looked at exhausted sick Justin was “you’re my hero.” All I could have done, without him, was stand there and cry and call my dog in vain and feel useless.
With him? As a team? Pretty sure we can do anything.