I take Abbey out for her first walk around six-thirty in the morning. I love having a dog who can wait until I've had a cup of coffee without tearing around the house in anticipation, like my last two, younger and crazier, Formula One Fosters, always would.
Abbey has learned her manners and waits for me to give her permission to exit the front door, then turns back to face me and sits as I close the door behind us. This is a very important "setting-up" for a peaceful walk. Abbey's sense of smell is incredible and her main purpose in life, when I first got her, was a "search and destroy mission" against any other canine. With that in mind, she would be out the door like a shark in pursuit of a sardine, with me in tow. If any other dogs were within scenting distance or, heaven forbid, line of sight, there would follow much barking and lunging. She has a low center of gravity and is big-boned and sturdy. Much closer to her German Shepherd roots, in these moments, than her Lassie heritage. I actually scheduled our walks later in the morning so as not to wake up the neighborhood every day and I was warned by my doctor that torn rotator-cuffs are not unheard of in the dog walking community.
Abbey is still in need of reminding that we have to be polite. In most cases now, if I get my timing right and remember to use my "serious voice", I can tell her to "Leave It!" and she will look at me for a reward for good behavior. The stiff-necked, predatory stance with shoulders leaning forward, ready to rumble is no longer an everyday part of our interactions with the world outside. This enables us to walk with a loose leash, as I am confident that I can control her by voice command, and leash correction, (not originally the case).
I love walking with Abbey. She walks fast, but she's much easier now than Boomer was, and she only has one problem area. Boomer was a naughty boy, launching after anything that moved, including joggers, cyclists, trucks, skate-boards and of course cats, squirrels etc. His wolfy long snout would make an impressive clacking noise as he snapped his jaws in excitement. Long after he went to his forever family, I found myself hyper-vigilant on walks, even without a dog for company. The Christmas card they sent me showed a beautiful sail boat on a tranquil sea and the message inside cracked me up: "All IS Calm", as I know that is not a possibility with Boomer around.
Back to my morning walk with Abbey. The weather has finally turned to typical summer temperatures, after a long and most unusual rainy season that had us feeling jealous of European drought conditions. The mornings are perfect, sunny but not yet too hot. The last couple of afternoons have come close to hitting one hundred degrees.Yesterday, as we rounded a corner in a sylvan neighborhood, unencumbered by sidewalks, I saw a small leather wallet in the crease at the edge of the street, where road meets curb. Next to it was a woolen hat. I picked up the wallet and looked inside. There was no money, but a student ID card for a local, fifteen year old high school student. No address, but I thought I could call it in to the Sheriffs' Dept. lost and found. I picked up the hat, curious to see it was a nice quality ski-mask, rather than the beanie I'd expected. I didn't want to have to juggle the hat and the dog leash so I left it where it lay.
My curious brain kicked in as Abbey and I distanced ourselves from the spot. Who wears a ski mask in June, in California? I decided that I needed to collect, what was likely evidence of some dubious activity, after all. So, on the return path towards home, I made an extra zig and zag and scooped up the balaclava hat.
Abbey and I leave for work by seven-thirty, so, by the time I called the local Sheriff I was in another town entirely. I explained what I had found and gave them my contact info. The dispatcher asked me to call again when I got home and said they'd send a deputy out to collect my finds.
Abbey had a chance last evening, to practice her "Good Behavior when someone knocks on the door" and "Please don't threaten to eat members of the Law Enforcement community". We ended our session with her on a leash, sitting politely whilst the Deputy fed her a biscuit. He was then allowed in and Abbey treated him like her new best friend. Luckily the uniform pant is medium brown so as not to show the dog hairs.
Of the two scenarios I'd imagined, one with the poor student being the victim of a robber and the second with the student being the ne'er do well, it seems that an investigation was ongoing regarding a number of houses that had recently been "T.P'd", or completely festooned with toilet paper. The deputy was chuckling as he headed out to knock on the door of the alleged perpetrator to have a little chat with the young man's parents.