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Offleash: An unrestrained dogumentary
It is long past the time for our dog walk and both Dog Taylor and I are becoming impatient. Our human is transfixed by the glow of the television screen, which is at this moment showing images of men moving at great speeds on ice in pursuit of a small piece of vulcanized rubber. Amusing I'm sure, but compared to a dog walk, its entertainment value just doesn't hold up for us canines.
In the hopes of distracting the hominid from his electronic trance, I approach, put my head in his lap, and gaze up at him with my best "poor, sad puppy" eyes. Though we don't share a language, the Dude immediately understands what I am trying to communicate. He tousles my ears and asks that most rhetorical of questions, "Time to go for a walk Bo?" I shake and trot for the door with Dog Taylor not far behind.
We dogs are ready to romp. My human however has a few preparations to make before we go. We pried him away from one form of technology, but he is not prepared to leave his wired world behind. Even before he puts his boots on, he starts gathering gadgets.
First and foremost, his digital camera so he can document this momentous occasion — the nightly walk with his dogs — for posterity. Then his cell phone, so that he can communicate at will with other hominids should he feel the need to chat. Followed by a GPS unit so we can know exactly where we are on this trail that we have walked literally thousands of times. A SPOT satellite emergency tracker is of course essential. One never knows when you will run into trouble and need to send out a signal informing search and rescue that you are in dire need of their services. And last but not least, his iPod, so he might enjoy a few tunes from the over 2598 (10.2 days worth) he has stored there. Tonight it will be something a little more up tempo as he will be skiing and there is nothing as exhilarating as cranking a few tele-turns to the blood stirring beat of The White Stripes or Big Sugar. Or at least that is the opinion of my plugged in human. Taylor and I will traipse through the winter night unencumbered by battery-powered devices. Well, almost. Our human insists that we wear headlamps around our necks so he might keep track of us in the dark. And so it was, with light emitting diodes glowing, we set out into the snow.
Initially, Taylor and I take the lead on the trail. As long as we are on the flat, or going up hill, being in front of a human on skis is fine. When heading down slope however, it is best to let people — especially those who have not totally mastered the technology of skis — go first. It is just safer that way.
Right off the hop, I notice two bull elk standing in a grove of trees, just off the edge of the llama pasture. I see them; I smell them and I hear them. Heck if we were just a bit closer, I could taste them. My dude, however, is oblivious. His attention currently distracted by his wrist computer that is informing him that the barometric pressure is dropping.
The rest of the ski is fantastic. We get to the top of the ridge and then with the lights of town glowing below us, we chase after our person as he flies down the hill towards home.
By the time we hit the llama pasture, we can hardly keep up to the crazy hominid on skis, going mach III towards the hay shed. You know, the hay shed where two monstrous bull elk with lethally pointy antlers are trying to steal a few mouthfuls of feed.
Hard to know who is more surprised: our Dude by the wild-eyed, charging ungulates or the elk by the expletive spewing, charging human. It is a near miss but the collision is avoided. More by good luck than good technology however.
Thoughts by Boulder the Dog, word-processing by Dan MIlls