February 7th, 2017
Last Wednesday, the evening walk started innocently enough. It was a much shorter distance than we usually covered. The temperatures had been dropping steadily as the week progressed. In fact, Wabush was the coldest place in Canada on Saturday when -58 degrees Celsius was reached. It was a record breaking temperature for our community on that particular day. Between the cooler temperatures and wind, Bailey showed little interest in going out. Duty called and we left the warm comfort of our home behind. Bailey poked her muzzle in the snow and sniffed a few snowbanks for interesting scents. A couple of vehicles passed us but, we were on our own shuffling down the snowy covered streets. No dogs or people meant a relatively dull walk for our social butterfly. On the return loop, Bailey picked up speed as we climbed upwards on the last two streets. Moving quickly up two steep roads is uncharacteristic of our waddling Bailey. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary though.
Occasionally, she glanced slightly back at me while maintaining a forward position. I sensed something was not quite right. Bailey was no longer sniffing the ground or stopping at her pal’s yard to leave a quick p-mail. She was a dog on a mission – to get home quickly. I normally allow Bailey to go forward with the leash loose rather than heeling on these streets. Her being in front of me was not unusual. So what was bothering me? By the time that we reached our driveway, I had a pretty good idea. Bailey had contraband stowed away in her mouth. It was that last glance of hers that gave things away. I expected that she had found a small twig or worse, one with those little pine cones attached. Would she never learn? Smuggled pine cones created quite a mess for me in recent weeks. Bailey threw-up on her blanket during the night. Luckily, I did not step in it on my way to turn the lights on. Lying in the middle of regurgitated kibble were two tiny pine cones – the source of irritation. Obviously, Bailey had squirrelled them away in her mouth sometime during the previous night’s walk unbeknownst to me.
I pried open her mouth and did the two finger sweep. I was taken by surprise when a tennis ball fell out onto the pavement. Bailey tried to snatch up her treasure. I was quicker. It was mine. She knew it was gone for good. Bailey has learned that tennis balls are a big no. At the dog park, she is told to leave it. I had no idea where she had picked it up on our walk. Did the ball belong to another dog or was it left behind from a road hockey game? I pondered over the incident for a moment. I felt like a person who had driven her friend to the bank, waited outside until the banking was done and then drove away together. In reality, the friend had just robbed the bank and I had no idea. I was an unwitting accomplice of Bailey, the ball thief. Guilty by association, I guess.