Walking the Dog Walking the Baby

Dog on leash IMG_0431by Lia Barnes of Into The West


There’s a line of clouds that you can clearly see about a third of the way up Bear Peak and I know that it’s dumping snow up there. Enzo and I just went out for a walk up to the trailhead just off of Shanahan Ridge but all we encountered were a few stray flakes. It’s cold, though and getting colder. We had to go for a walk because if we didn’t I fear that I might have killed him.

It’s just that the lady next door was having her carpets steam-cleaned, or her basement pumped out, whatever endeavor requires a small truck and a large hose; a continuous whiny roar emanated from the truck in such as way as to alarm this small dog who then thought it his duty to alert me to the nefarious goings on.

No matter how I redirected, pleaded, threatened, attempted training strategies with Cheerios, looked deeply into his adorable black eyes to help him understand that we were not in danger, Enzo was fully connected to his instinct and would not be called off.

The only solution was another walk. And so now, an hour later he’s curled up in a contented white ball on the sofa while a fire crackles away in the stove and I sit here feeling foolish for becoming angry at a lovable little ball of instinct.

It makes me think back to when Laura was a tiny baby and I was an emerging young adult, inadequately prepared to handle the day in, day out demands of a 7 pound human being. I remember thinking back then–I suppose I had the presence of mind to realize just how dire the circumstances could be–that I understood how parents could shake their babies to death out of terrifying, unadulterated frustration.

“Why won’t you stop?!” I held my daughter up one time in front of me, shouting at her little body to stop crying. It was in the stairway, on the way up or down, it was probably during the daylight hours.

Nothing extraordinary had happened, it was a regular day in a regular week and I was simply reaching some limit in my ability to safely and lovingly care for my screaming infant. Possessing a certain history of sanity and restraint I didn’t shake her until her neck snapped. I didn’t have to call the police to report that there was something wrong with my baby and oh my god, she’s not breathing. We carried on and to this day no one has ever known how close I came to the edge.

I should have just put her harness on and taken her for a walk.



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