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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Friday, July 4, 2008

Walking the dog

Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 I walk the dog. In Massachusetts she looks forward to it - the familiar routes and smells and chance meetings with friendly strangers who just might have a treat handy. In Maine she's not so sure. No question that she's interested: all day, she tracks my every movement, hoping I might go out to the deck so she can lie in the grass out front and guard us from the finches, but alas, twice a day I go to the back door. Her tail goes down and she stands looking sad. Somehow the leash and a kind tone of voice do not convince her. She doesn't share my joy at walking up Bay View and down Canns Beach. I have to move her along with a tight leash and the occasional gentle tap on the butt.

You see, there are too many animals in Maine. It's not the wild ones she's worried about - the deer and the foxes and the reputed fisher cat in the woods behind the house. In fact, we saw a deer once, and she stood stock still, keenly interested, tail up. She worries about her fellow dogs. A couple of times the yellow labs next door were loose; the old collie at the end of Canns Beach raced down the hill at us, barking and menacing; the three poodles next door on the other side she has only disdain for (her own breed!). I've have to drag her past certain houses, pick her up in emergencies, talk to her in a baby voice about how nice all the doggies are (they aren't).

In spite of these psychological impairments, I love my walks with Mia here the way she loves her walks in Newton. Country mouse, city mouse: I'm for seeing the same trees, field of lupine, raspberry patch, deer trails every day. I have hopes of foxes, fears of lawn mowers. She, bless her heart, likes humans.

The one place our pleasures merge is Crockett's Beach. At low tide the sand is exposed, and she revels in chasing sticks, pouncing on bubbles in the surf, digging at the air holes of clams. Her breeding is discarded (wouldn't that be great?) and together we drink in the salty air.

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