Thursday, November 29, 2007

Going To The Dogs

I have to say, I'm becoming a curmudgeon. An old fart. A churl. A grumpy old guy. And I'm not even old. Yet.

Callie, our border collie, gets two walks a day. One in the morning, at sunrise, and another in the afternoon. The timing of the afternoon walk depends on the weather and when the sun sets. In the summer, the afternoon walk usually happens in the evening, after 6pm, since it doesn't get dark until after 10pm.

One of the guys that works in the vineyard, his dog Max, and Callie.

But in the winter, when it gets dark around 5pm, we need to get out there at around 4:30pm. These are still work hours, and the vineyard workers are out there doing their thing. We try to avoid them so that Callie doesn't jump all over them, but often we can't, and we stop and chat and they play a little with the dog. One of the guys has a dog named Max (short for Maxine, I think; she's a female). Max hangs out with her human all day while he prunes and burns vines.

Max and Callie have met and get along fine. Max stays pretty close to her master, so as we walk by, the two dogs greet and play a bit and then we go on. So far, so good.

Every once in a while, and not very often, we'll see a neighbor out with his or her dog. Same scenario. We meet and greet and then go our separate ways. This has been going on for four years, first with Collette and now with Callie.

Callie and Max.

But this past year there is some new neighbor somewhere in town - they don't live in our hamlet - that has been showing up in the vineyard in the afternoons on a regular basis. Her dog's name is Lily. Callie and Lily also get along well. Too well. They take off together. Lily bounds over to find Callie and then runs off with her.

Going our separate ways doesn't work. Lily will seek out Callie and then take off with her, and Callie goes. I think the lady brings Lily over to our vineyard just to find Callie. And this lady has absolutely nothing to say. She's boring. We have nothing to say to each other (I'm pretty boring, myself).

This week I nearly lost it. Lily, Max, and Callie all met at the same moment out among the vines. Callie is the smallest of the three, but she's the fastest, and being a border collie, she likes to herd the other dogs around. They were in doggy-dog heaven. I was in dog owner hell.

Off they went, bounding through dirt and mud. Out of sight. Toward the road where cars and trucks frequently speed by. And the three of us humans just stood there smiling, saying things like, "Isn't it nice that they all get along so well." And then I have to explain for the hundredth time that I speak to Callie in English because I'm an American and that she doesn't understand French commands so stop trying to talk to her because she doesn't get what you're saying.

Here's where the curmudgeonly part comes in. I CAN'T STAND THIS!

I want to walk in the vineyard alone with my dog, alone with my thoughts. I don't want to make small talk to boring people. Heck, I don't want to make small talk to interesting people, at least not in the vineyard. I don't want to hang out with other people and other people's dogs. If I wanted to be social, I would have stayed in the city and gone to dog parks and not moved to the country! Dammit.

Now, before you scold me, I know it's good for Callie to have doggy friends to run and play with. I know I should teach Callie some commands in French. I know I have some advice for you, too, if you'd like to hear it. But for now I'll just keep it to myself. ;)

There. I feel much better now.


  1. Good lord you sound JUST like my husband......I think you and he would get along great.....BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE WALKING YOUR BORDER COLLIES.

    How about a walk at 3pm instead of 4:30pm??

    At least your border collie likes other dogs.....ours just likes people.

    Victoria, Bellingham,WA

  2. Don't ever stop blogging, Walt--you cracked me up today! I have a feeling that Callie's friend would show up whenever you do since you're so much fun to talk to;-)

    I should've told you to get a poodle. They are snobbish animals who prefer people to dogs and who understand some French.

    Conn's granddog, a border collie has a gang she runs with when she visits. I think it's part of a dog's nature to run in gangs.

    Maybe you could get a torch and start walking at night. You'll probably need a heavier coat as well.

    Amy's making her children bilingual, maybe you should consider this for Callie;-)

    bon courage

  3. I just looked up your saint on the calendar. It's Saint Gauthier, Saint Walter (is that an oxymoron, or what?). It says he was a hermit. Why am I not surprised?

  4. dog is my copilot.

    otherwise, i work aLONE.

  5. p.s. is it possible the lady is cruising?

  6. What a great story! However, if you don't want to make small talk, you'd better go somewhere where there are neither people nor dogs :)
    Now I'll have to look up curmudgeon, because of you! You should be ashamed of yourself ;)

  7. I think you'd enjoy the film "The Station Agent." Has nuttin' to do with dogs. Or France.

  8. I love when you get all curmudgeonly!

  9. My advice is.... well, never mind. A most hilarious blog entry. Juice, you made me LOL.

  10. victoria, there is a different way we can go, but I try to get her out as late as possible.

    evelyn, then I can really carry a torch for my dog...

    ken, you're never surprised.

    juice, gee, I hope not. Ick.

    claude, I'm surprised you don't already know that word, especially since you know me and Ken.

    jayne, kinda gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, which I understand you need right now in Toronto.

    cheryl, I think I know what your advice would be... hehehe.

  11. I'm so glad I heard of this post in BLOGGING IN PARIS. You're hilarious! I was always at a loss of words to describe my British ex. Now it's so clear in my mind...He is an interesting old gent, no doubt about it.
    I also visited the CASTLES with awe. Thank you for your blog.

  12. Are there such things as "curmudgettes?" I know how you feel, I think -- and I don't even HAVE a dog -- but I have the same reaction when I am sitting peacefully, alone, on my patio, and my new neighbor from New Jersey comes out and commences to chatter chatter chatter, when all I want is some P & Q. Maybe I am a curmudgette! :-) However, I think we all have a right to some P & Q -- sometimes we need to use a little guile to get it...complicates matters when your dogs are buddies.

  13. Chris, I ordered The Station Agent from netflix and loved it! Thanks for mentioning it.


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