I was supposed to be attending my first writer's meeting with a group of writers in Bothell. I had a small window of time before catching my bus, so I optimistically opted for a run along the waterfront with Pinto. It would be our farewell run, the last one before I said goodbye to him tomorrow and gave him over to a new family. Conditions were perfect: sunny, late summer afternoon, clipping along at a good pace (well, for someone who hasn't run much in the last 9 months). Until we turned around at our mile and a half marker and started heading back. He decided he'd had enough of running and flopped down in the grass. Wouldn't budge. I coaxed, cajoled, and yes, begged and pleaded. Nada. Finally I thought, if I can't convince him I might as well join him, so I flopped down beside him with his head in my lap and petted him.
About ten minutes later, I thought that was a generous break and attempted to start running again. He wouldn't have a thing to do with it. Couples strolled by chuckling. An eccentric woman on a bicycle rode by leisurely and laughed loudly at my predicament. My dog was having a two-year old tantrum, puppy style.
Finally I got him to start running with me, as long as he was off his leash. We were cruising, he was loping along freely beside me. All was well. Until we passed a guy resting off to the side with his bike near the gymnastic bars. Pinto run right up to him and plopped down. When the guy tried to do his sit-ups, Pinto was right there, nose in his face.
I ran over, embarrassed and apologetic. "So sorry. C'mon, Pinto. Time to go." I started running, looking back, calling for him to come, but to no avail. The guy watched my pitiful attempt and shook his head, chuckling. After watching this act for a few minutes, he introduced himself and we chatted for a bit.
"I hate to say this," he said matter-of-factly, "But you have absolutely no control over your dog." He sounded now like he was trying to suppress some laughter, mixed with some pity, that such an ignorant girl ended up with such a smart puppy.
I laughed it off. "Oh, you think?"
I attached the leash to Pinto again, who stuck his paws out in front of him and flattened himself like a pancake. Stepping back, leash taut, I resumed the "Come, Pinto" routine. Tim the Biker stood by discreetly and finally asked if he could take a picture with his iPhone and email it to me. "You've gotta see this picture. You guys look so funny."
Tim took the picture and said goodbye, wishing me luck. I figured I would make the most of our pit stop and do some crunches and arm dips on the bars. A young couple wandered over and began using the bars beside us. I tried again to move Pinto along down the path. In a flash of brilliance (took long enough), I found a stick nearby and dangled it in front of Pinto's face, running off before he could snatch it. It worked! For about 25 yards. But Pinto did a U-turn near a bench where two guys were stopped on their workout routine. They weren't as chatty as Tim, so I managed to coax Pinto away from them, wave the stick, and get him to follow me further down the path.
After flopping down a few more times, the next stop was to chase another dog who was carrying a ball in his mouth. Pinto tailed him, round and round a field, down the forbidden beach and through the water, tongue waving in the breeze, while the dog occasionally turned his head to look back at Pinto, growling in displeasure at this intrusion.
I once again clipped Pinto's leash back on and we ran about a quarter mile this time. My hopes were beginning to rise, thinking maybe, just maybe, we were on the home stretch. But no, Pinto was done. Office hours were over. He was staging his coup, exercising his right to protest going home. I knew by now what this was all about. Pinto was not tired or sick. Pinto just hated being in that apartment, so much so that he refused to walk home.
The last person he passed out in front of was a girl studying at Mars Hill Graduate school downtown. I saw her psychology books and struck up a conversation with her, since I saw we'd be here for awhile. We shared some feelings about our grad school experiences and thoughts of what we wanted to do (or in my case, not do) with our degrees. A homeless man stopped and plopped down beside us, petting Pinto and commenting on all the people in the park in not so gracious language, asking the girl if she was old enough to smoke pot, to which she smiled politely and changed the topic. After a few minutes, he said goodbye and moved along, and we she wondered if she could help me get Pinto jumpstarted again. It was a nice thought.
This is it, I decided, gritting my teeth. Pinto's not budging, and I'm not going to be seen dragging a dog by his neck down the street, looking like a dog beater to all the Seattle-ites and tourists and families out for nice evening walks with their little ones and puppy dogs. Crouching down beside Pinto, I said goodbye to the girl and thanked her for her patience (we did interrupt her moment of privacy and study, after all). Then I slid my arms underneath Pinto's head and back legs and scooped him up in my arms. All 65 pounds of him, hanging limply. I almost dropped him as I tried to suppress my laughter at how ridiculous we must look. And then I started walking.
Down the waterfront path, past a woman with kids and an empty stroller who asked if I needed her stroller. Past the buses and taxis, the walkers and joggers, the park security guy and the people I'd passed several times during our stilted run. My arms ached, so I put him down, hoping he'd be ready to stop this childish act and walk like a decent dog. But he just gazed up at me with those sad, sad eyes and hunkered down in one spot like he was waiting for the end of the world. I sighed and whined and shook my head in disbelief. "So we're really doing this, huh? Really?? I can't believe you, Pintito." I scooped him up once more and carried him a little farther. We did this little routine all the way home, as I huffed and puffed for breath, tried to ignore the stares and grins of people driving or walking by (just so I didn't lose it and start laughing), feeling the sweat coming on, my heart rate accelerating, my arms entering into a state of exhaustion.
All the romanticism of a walk with the dog in the park drained away with my energy.
I didn't make it to my writer's meeting. But Pinto gave me plenty to write about.
Ai, Pintito. He ran out of gas.