As many of you know, last week I walked a dog called Max.
It was an adventure involving lots of confusion, frustration and more than a little poo.
With so many people looking forward to my second walk with Max, I feared disappointing you all. Now that I know how to work the various house apparatuses, it probably wouldn’t be an interesting walk.
I’ll preface the story with these three key takeaways: 1. Doing CrossFit should be a prerequisite for walking Max. 2. The gentle leader is positively vital. 3. One poo bag is never enough.
Just as last week, I leave my apartment at 12:45. No traffic issues this time—score. Bright sunny day; no ice chasms to navigate. Sorry, friends, I don’t think I’ll have much to tell.
I stride toward the back porch with confidence and reach for the lockbox. I notice the door is about three inches ajar.
“It’s happening,” I think. “The story. It can’t even help itself.”
I wonder if the owner forgot I was coming and is still at home, possibly eating snacks on the couch, oblivious to the intruder standing awkwardly on her back step. I poke my head in and croak out a weak “hellooooo?
Silence. I enter and survey the scene.
It certainly looks like there could be someone here. There’s a crumb-dusted baking sheet on the stove and about two dozen dirty dishes in the sink. Shoes strewn all over the floor, and a purse, laptop and breakfast plate—complete with petrified sausage–on the table.
I shrug. Emboldened by my new status as Experienced Max-Walker, I head up to the alcove. NOT TODAY, BABY GATE, NOT TODAY. I don’t even unbuckle it; I simply lift it up and set it aside. Max is Very Pleased to see me and promptly wedges himself between my legs and licks my knees.
Downstairs, I grab the gentle leader. I hold Max by his collar with one hand as I attempt to lasso his snout with the other. Something’s not right. The ring for the leash should be on the side of his head, not the top of his nose.
I take it off. While I examine it, Max sprints laps in the living room.
The leader must be upside down, I think. I call him back and we try again. Now it won’t buckle. Again, I remove it for examination.
But now Max thinks we’re playing tag, and clearly I’m “it.” I spend the next 12 minutes alternately chasing/capturing Max and being bamboozled by the leader. Hell with it. I’m not spending another two hours here. We’re taking the regular leash. How much of a difference could it really make?
We begin the walk. Wow. Max is really strong. I guess the leash type really does matter.
I’ve got the loop around my right wrist and I’m holding the leash with both hands. I sort of lurch on my toes as Max strains at the leash. After half a block, he stops for a poo.
At least this time I’m prepared. I reach for the plastic Target bag I stashed in my pocket. But as I gingery collect the four fetid logs, I fail to notice the woman approaching across the street. Or her three dogs.
Do you remember Disney’s animated “101 Dalmations”? The park scene, where all the dogs look like their humans? This is a regal, silver-haired woman in a long winter coat, serenely walking with her head held high. At her side are two breathtaking, ashen greyhounds; a black Great Dane at the lead.
Jesus. Take. The Wheel.
Max yanks me a full 180 with the force I imagine is required for a launch into hyperspace. He screams. I mean, he barks, but make no mistake, he is screaming.
I’m crouched in a half squat, leaning the opposite way with all might, as though I were competing in a sled-pull event with a living sled whose goal is to ruin your life.
I pointlessly shout “NO!” as the regal lady and her regal dogs amble by. She beholds me with a gaze that seems to say, “Look at this unlearned heathen; how dare she sully the sidewalk with her uncontrolled beast.” Her dogs appear to agree, each staring at us as they obediently trot by her side.
In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: “Let me esplain—no. There is too much. Let me sum up.”
Max and I encountered no fewer than six other dogs, two human adults, four cars and one human baby on our 30-minute walk. Each seemed personally affronted at my inability to get Max to obey, Max graduated from pulling to leaping, and the severity of the rope burn on my hand increased exponentially. At one point, Max tried to chase a fucking PLANE.
It’s worth mentioning that by minute 11, I had smears of feces across my left hand and hip.
You see, I had no time to grab another bag after Max took his second poo because one of the aforementioned dog sightings happened immediately after. I had to quickly swipe at the poo with the already-knotted bag and lug Max out of the danger zone. Though I dropped that poo in a nearby snowbank, the end result was such that every time the bag swung around my wrist while I attempted to restrain Max, it streaked residual excrement all over my person.
We returned home, stinky and sweaty (at least, I was sweaty). Max had his snack and his drink, then transformed into utter dead weight on the floor as I urged/dragged him back upstairs.
I replaced the fully intact baby gate and gave Max a few final pats. He’s a good dog, Brent, and it’s not his fault he’s untrained.
Still, I’m pretty sure that’s the last time I’ll accept a job in my neighborhood with a dog named Max.