Kelly Butte, Springfield

In the Little House books, Jack always knew to chill out whenever the wagon stopped. The poor guy had to walk the whole way from Wisconsin to Kansas, and then to the banks of Plum Creek up in Minnesota. Ramona acts as if she’d be willing to put in some pioneer miles today after two days without a walk. She keeps swerving out into the street as if she’s trying to follow Pa across a swollen river.

Cat poop consumed: no

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Kelly Butte, Springfield

In the dog walking lottery today I got Ramona, who, in case you haven’t already noticed, is a lot like a lottery prize. I pushed the baby juggler and Ramona kept pace alongside, gently anticipating each turn and waiting for cars. It was as if squirrels and cat poop had suddenly been eliminated from the world. Seriously, I bet with very little training she could be one of those dogs that accompany folks in wheelchairs. She’d go to service dog class and the teacher would say, “Ramona, I know you already know this, so feel free to read magazines while I do compassion drills with these other morons.”

Cat poop consumed: no

Kelly Butte, Springfield

It was a full-on Walking the Dog family parade, at least for the three blocks to the Bungalow Market. M. needed a Diet Coke so L. chaperoned her into the Bungalow and safely back home through Springfield’s mean streets. Grandma eased the baby juggler up and down curbs as if brain damage was imminent with anything more vigorous, while I wrangled the squirrelly dogs, disrupted by yet another shift in pack dynamics. We eased into the old familiar routine once we got to the base of the hill and started climbing, autumn splendor all round and spreading out in a rusty gold quilt o’er the valley up to the vista vista vista.

Cat poop consumed: yes

Kelly Butte, Springfield

I’ve got poncho fever, thanks to the Goodwill in Reedsport. Turns out a pumpkin-colored wool-blend poncho–with or without fringe–is the perfect layering garment for cool, overcast mornings in late June. Mine does not have pockets, however, which is a problem when one wears a skirt lacking similar storage while walking the dogs. No place for keys or poop bags or the iPod. But here is another benefit of the poncho: one can slip the iPod into the cup of one’s feminine support garment and the poncho cleverly hides the bulge and keeps the headphone cord out of the way. Just tie the poop bags to the leashes and you’re set.

Cat poop consumed: yes

Kelly Butte, Springfield

Jones tore one of his dew claws this morning during an uneventful walk around Island Park. He’s a delicate flower and doesn’t handle pain well and kept presenting his wounded paw to me. The claw was broken down to the quick, so clipping would be very painful for him and I didn’t want to be the one to inflict it. Instead I wrapped a piece of duct tape around it in hopes that it will hold until Saturday when he has his vet appointment. Let them do it if it needs to happen. Splint in place, we enjoyed an ordinary walk up the butte and I wondered again how it is that everyone in the world but me enjoys the splendor of forsythia in their springtime yards.

Cat poop consumed: no

Kelly Butte, Springfield

There was a bundle in the middle of Mill St. just past the Bungalow Market and I prayed don’t let it be an animal please don’t let it be an animal and as we got closer the legs flopped and it was. A cat on its side, struggling to get up and me with two dogs and a car coming. I had to turn away because another hit seemed inevitable and waited for the sickening thump but it never came. I whipped off the leashes and tied the dogs to a tree, strategizing: how will I carry an injured cat home with the two dogs and then should I take it to the emergency vet but what if it belongs to someone? I ran four steps into the street when the cat got up with nary a scratch and trotted way from me to the sidewalk on the other side. You faker! I said. Relieved, though. The dogs were suitably solemn.

Cat poop consumed: yes

Kelly Butte, Springfield

So smug, me with all my conference bits in order, agendas drafted and photocopies stacked, a list of lo-fi outfits to pack. Yes, it meant skipping the lunchtime walk to the yarn store, but I can risk being trapped in an airport without knitting. I’m home, dinner consumed, ready to walk the neglected dog, and realize I left the iPod headphones on my desk. I may be able to get through a conference weekend without an iPod, but I cannot get through the next 45 minutes walking in the dark, as tired and stupid as I feel, without podcast assistance. Jones and I headed back to campus in the car to retrieve the earbuds, made a stop at the drugstore for those other two things I thought I could do without, then finally hit the streets. Now I’m really ready and also really tired. Bring on the librarians!

Cat poop consumed: no