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A not-so-civilized walk

Lead Summary

HCP columnist

After we finished the daily chores, we decided to take a bit of time off and go for a walk with the dogs. We thought, however, that we would not take our usual walk along the creek, but that we would rather take a walk through civilization – with leashes.

As soon as Greg opened the back door to his truck, two big black dogs jumped inside.
They sat like pillars, facing forward, excited at whatever human adventure might lie ahead. As Greg and I fastened our seat belts and Greg started to drive down the hill, the male, who we rescued a little over two years ago, lay obediently down, head on his forefeet, facing the door.

The female, who we have only had for the past six months, sat upright in the middle of the back seat. She shivered with excitement, facing this way and that. She stood up and then sat back down, only to stand back up again. I finally turned and put my arm around her shoulders to keep her calm.



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We drove down the hill to the river and parked beside the new path that ran just about the entire length of the town, between the old and new bridges. We easily slid choke collars over the dogs’ heads and stepped down from the truck. I had the female, Greg the male.
It had been many months since we had walked the dogs on leashes. For a while, we were taking them on civilized walks every week, but then we seemed to get busy and time slipped away. It felt good to be out on a civilized walk once again.

The sky overhead was a perfect clear blue. The sun shone down warm all around us, and we could see several folks strolling along the path both ahead and behind us. I quickly realized that I was not able to enjoy the blue sky, or the sun, or even smile at other folks. It seemed to be all I could do to keep my big black dog by my side. She zig-zagged from smell to smell and even though I jerked hard on her chain to keep her by my side, she would try to dart off again. Finally, Greg suggested that he take the female, and we traded dogs.
All seemed to settle down as we walked along the path, side by side, enjoying the day and our well-behaved big black dogs. Then up ahead, I noticed a man walking toward us with a small white dog. As the man and his dog grew closer, I dropped behind Greg, so that we were walking single file, our dogs by our right sides, the man and his dog passing to our left.
Then, just as we passed, our female zigged in front of Greg. Greg turned, just as the male by my side zagged, and somehow the two dogs crossed leashes. I do not know how or why, but I fell slowly backward and ended up sitting on the ground looking up as to my amazement Greg fell gently forward, ending up on top of me. The four of us were quite tangled up as the man passed hurriedly by, and by the time we were untangled and had somewhat regained our composure, he was, no doubt very thankfully, very far down the path.

So our civilized walk was anything but civilized, and I know that we owe our deepest apology to the man and his little dog, but once were on our feet again, and our dogs were walking calmly by our sides, we knew that we had to press on. We could not let our dogs think that such tangled confusion was allowable, so we kept them on short leashes and finished the remainder of our walk and without incident.

We have decided that until we get back into the hang of civilized walks ... it might be best to only walk one dog at a time. No chance of tangled leashes and toppled people.

But for now, I think that I will go put a halter on one of the little horses and take her for an uncivilized walk along the creek road.  

Christine Tailer is an attorney who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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