The dog days of summer


This summer it seems everyone packed up the family truckster and headed for Colorful Colorado… While I can’t blame them, it has caused me to experience some road rage. Whether running errands around town or getting out into the wild, everywhere I go, there are humans in my way. On more than one occasion I counted over sixty cars! parked along the side of the narrow dirt road leading to my favorite trailhead. Fortunately, my sister gave me some helpful advice to deal with all these terrific out-of-towners. She told me to picture each driver as a different breed of dog.

So now, whenever I’m stuck behind a nervous Golden Retrievadoodle, I just smile and give her extra time to make that hazardous left-hand turn. Or when a Rottweiler sticks his oversized head out of his oversized truck to bark and growl at the rest of us, I simply wave. It really does work. I stay calm, cool, collected, and everywhere I go I see loveable mutts behind the wheel.

Dogs sure do know how to live the good life: eat, walk, sniff stuff, sleep, and everything else is just an excuse to take a joyride in the car. Although small-town living usually promotes friendly encounters, it has been interesting to notice how differently we act when we don’t know each other (or when we can’t quite recognize each other because of the masks.) In my whole life, in all the bizarre scenarios I imagined, I never thought I would one day walk around my hometown and not see a familiar face.

I have done my best to socially distance during these strange days, but I still walk my dog in public places. For those of you who have never owned one, let me just tell you that I wouldn’t wish a stay-at-home order on my worst enemies if they had a Border Collie. Recently I was walking my dog on what used to be a lonely road not too far out of town, when I came across a truck parked on the side of the road with gear streaming out of the tailgate. I looked ahead to see three dirt bike riders among the cows in the field. The riders were jumping over rocks and doing figure eights in the grass, and while the cows didn’t seem particularly concerned, I was annoyed. “Tourists,” I thought to myself. As I walked, I made up their back story in my mind; a family from somewhere in southern California, they had just sold their home and moved here to experience the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle, as seen in Dodge truck commercials… And with the sale money they were able to buy a brand-new house and a bunch of toys. Now they would be up here all the time, interrupting my peaceful dog walks.

I took a deep, middle-aged breath and thought to myself, “there goes the rural.”

As I approached, two riders were still driving their bikes around the obstacle course of cows, but the third rider had stopped to take off their helmet… “Oh! It’s you!” Said a friendly, familiar voice.

I looked closely to find my neighbor smiling at me, completely unrecognizable in all her Mad Max gear.

“Hi!” I said, my annoyance melting like ice cream on hot asphalt. “Whatcha doin?”

“Just testing out my new bike!” She was grinning from ear to ear. “We didn’t have time to go far today, but I had to get ‘er out and go for a ride.”

Suddenly the whole thing made sense and I regretted my concocted scenario.

“So glad it’s you,” said my neighbor, “When I saw someone walking a dog, I thought, ‘Oh great! Probably new to the area. For sure she’s going to yell at us.”

I smiled and kept her accuracy to myself.

“Hey, did you hear Carbondale is getting a lumber yard?!” my neighbor asked.

“No- what?! Where??”

“Right by the new City Market. And they’re closing one in Glenwood, so we’ll get all kinds of up-valley construction traffic during the week and everyone else on the weekends. Ugh.”

“Great.” I said. “The Aspenification of Carbondale continues...”

“Yep,” said my neighbor. “We’ve gone to the dogs.”

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