It has been almost like the winter that wasn’t, although we had a milder one four years ago. Still, we take them as we find them. At least, Charlie does. He was quite pleased with winter a couple of days ago.
Sometimes when we are out walking, he will choose the route. He does this with a set of very simple signals. So simple, in fact, that even I can understand them. If he doesn’t want to go where I want him to, he stops and puts his front right paw up on the leash and points his face in the direction he thinks we should be going.
On a very cold morning, he will stop at the end of the driveway, press down on the leash, and look at the house. On a warm morning, he could lead me anywhere.
The other day he decided we shouldn’t go round the block as usual, but should cross Metcalfe Street and walk around Winston Crescent. It’s a longer walk, and the weather was decent, so it made some sense.
“So what’s up?” I asked him as we crossed the street. “Why do you want to go this way?”
“Hard to say,” he said. “There might be someone around here who isn’t around there.”
Hmm, I thought. It’s hard to argue against that logic.
“Anyway,” he said, “wasn’t Winston the name of the guy in that book?”
“What book?” I asked.
“You know the one,” he said. “The one with a guy named Winston in it.”
“Oh yeah, that one,” I said. His logic was right over the top. “Do you mean the one where war is peace and slavery is freedom?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s the one,” he said. “It makes as much sense as saying dogs are cats.”
“But you think cats are squirrels,” I said. “What makes you bring that book up now? Have you even read it?”
“For one thing,” Charlie answered, “we just happen to be walking on his Crescent. For another, some of us dogs were talking about your prime minister the other day. It seems he’s going to promote peace in the world by pulling the bombers out of Syria.”
“Yes,” I said. “He promised that when he was getting elected. Now he’s doing it. It was never our war to begin with. We don’t have a dog in the fight so shouldn’t be getting into it. It’s hard to keep track of who the good guys are over there.”
Charlie gave me a dirty look and was about to say something when he stood up straight and looked ahead. Basil was coming. Still about a block away, the big old Airedale had an owner who always had a pocket full of milk bone biscuits. Charlie started pulling forward, tail wagging and anxious. It was as though he hadn’t had anything to eat in five years. And he’s only four and a half.
Charlie stopped for a pee, and I asked him why he’d asked about the prime minister.
He put his leg down and looked at me with his head tilted to one side. “You do know,” he said, “that when he pulls out those six bombers, he will send in an extra few hundred troops on the ground?”
“Well, yes,” I replied, “I did hear that. They are supposed to be training some other soldiers.”
“Ha!” said Charlie as he watched Basil get closer. “Sounds to me like he wants to put some dogs in the fight, as you said. He seems to think war is peace. But stay quiet now. I want a word with Basil.”
Basil has very long legs. Charlie can walk under him without ducking, but the big old Airedale leaned his head down so that they could lick each other’s’ faces for a few seconds. Then they did all the other inspections that respectable dogs do. Then Charlie got his biscuit and declared his undying affection for Basil’s person.
“So that’s why you wanted to come this way,” I said. “You knew they’d be out for a walk and you wanted a biscuit.”
Charlie looked a bit sheepish and went to the closest tree and lifted his leg. He does that when he’s buying time to have a think.
“Sort of,” he finally admitted. “I also wanted to get an update from Basil. He knows everything that’s going on. His people put a fresh newspaper down for him every day.”
“Hmm,” I said. “Fresh newspapers are hard to find in Guelph these days. What was his news?”
“Well,” Charlie said, “he thinks that trial in Toronto isn’t going very well.”
“Which trial in Toronto,” I asked.
“You know the one,” said Charlie. “That radio guy is in it. The one who invites women home then hits them and chokes them and hurts them.”
“Oh yeah,” I said, “that one. He’s a real nutter. It seems to be going well for him, but not for anyone else.”
We were getting close to the corner by then. Charlie suddenly stopped, sat down on the sidewalk and looked up at me. “Let me get this straight.” he said. “You have a prime minister who thinks war is peace, and a court case to prove that hate is love. Are you sure you people are not stuck in that book?”
I tugged him to his feet and pulled him forward. “Come on,” I said. “We’re nearly home. Let’s get off Winston’s Crescent. It’s not very comfortable here.”