White Dog is feeling better mostly thanks to the pain relievers, I think. As she starts to feel less discomfort it will become more and more difficult to have her cooperation in restricting movements to slow and cautious.
Our friend Gordon presented an opportunity for the entire White Dog Army to go for a "safe" outing that would be without possibility of stress or temptation. Poor Gordon called last night sounding awful; he has a miserable congestion that is more likely a serious case of bronchitis. He lives alone, except for Louis and Lucy, his labradoodles who are not much help in preparing meals or making sure he is eating.
So we cooked up a big pot of turkey broth seasoned with fresh sage, added some cranberries, and tossed in homemade pumpkin noodles. Into the basket we added a small artisan loaf of bread and some apple butter.
The plan was to harness up the WDA, hop in the van and drop off easy meals for several days. The Army would get an outing and we would help a friend in need. Gordon lives just past the north edge of town so it would be a pleasant ride toward the mountains, all of us together, sunlight streaming in. White Dog lounged comfortably in her co-pilots throne.
We are almost ashamed to admit, as most of our friends are socked with major snow and plummeting temperatures, that it was a perfect New Mexico 60 degree day with bright blue sky and sunshine. The kind of day that pulls at you and calls you to come outside to play. We all felt it. We all wanted it. But what about White Dog's back?
I pondered this as Steve took Gordon's food into his house, visited a few minutes, and then made a retreat from the "germy environment" (as White Dog called it). Not too far from Gordon's house is the Park where we held our first ever Walk Against Cancer, years ago. It is never crowded. A new park, for nearly all of the WDA, this would naturally slow the pace to accommodate the sniffing and discovery that goes along with visiting a new place.
I held WD's face between my hands. "Listen to me." I requested. "We can go to the Park ONLY if you agree to a couple of conditions...one, NO zoomies...two, you can be off-leash if you stay be my side and follow my directions...three, you spend time sitting with me in the sunshine and supervising the others as dad walks them. If not I can simply put you on a leash. Can you do that?"
Over time, I have found the best way to get White Dog's cooperation is to ask for it and explain why. We fought for days over the cone of shame when she was spayed until I held her face-to-face and we agreed that if she would not scratch or chew that I would leave the cone off during the day. Never had to use it again. She is stubborn, sometimes qualifying for the most stubborn being in the Universe, but she is fair and reasonable if she understands the "why" of what she is asked to do.
White Dog thought about the offer to go to the Park. She turned back and looked at the others in the van. She sealed her promise with a lick of my hand and by resting against my shoulder.
True to her word, WD walked around a bit sniffing and remembering long ago visits. Then she came and sat next to where I rested holding Bella. Oso lay in the grass soaking up warm sunshine. In a distance Steve, Taiko, Puff, and YoYoMa walked the perimeter, pausing frequently to mark new discoveries. They joined us and for a while the White Dog Army, Steve and I were the only beings in the Park...and time stood still.