mercredi 29 février 2012

Where we walk the dogs, La Moraine

La Moraine

And this is where we walk with the dogs, every morning and every evening. It's a commitment to them. We could leave to ski earlier if I didn't in the morning (or I could get up earlier), but the dogs, two Labrador retrievers, one 12 and the other 18 months old, are good enough to be patient -- and not destroy anything at all -- in the hotel room while we are up on the mountain, and so I feel they deserve their time outdoors for what they love: a long walk in the forest at the foot of the mountain on the groomed walking trails.

Fia, anyway. Rapide would much prefer that I leave her at home to lie on her cushion and prepare for her final days, in some 2 or 3 years time.

We also need to tire them out, so they will sleep peacefully while we are out. This favors the préservation des lieux. At 5 months, we could leave Fia alone in our room all day, without a single mishap. She is Not Marley.

We have decided that Rapide is *perverse. Sam does not entirely agree with this somewhat pessimistic view of her behavior of my husband's, but I do believe that I sort of have to myself. I lean that way, anyhow. Let's start with the moment I approach her in the morning with the leash. She is lying on her side on her blue cushion, and as I bend down to attach the leash to the D-ring on her collar (note that I bend down; she does not stand up), she turns to show me her stomach for a scratch.

No. We are going for a walk. Fia is already wearing her leash and ready to go. You would think that Rapide might find motivation in the possibility of relieving her bladder. I think she would chose to hold it until she died. Possibly of a major urinary infection.

Leash secured, we move toward the door. Fia is out like a jack in the box. Rapide staggers toward the opening, letting the door hit her butt on her way out.

Then, there is the walk through the village to the forest. If I am alone, as I am in the morning, I have one dog out in front of me a distance equal to that of the other dog behind me, a distance equivalent to the length of the two identical leashes. Both leashes are taught. I leave you to guess, to divine who is out front, eager to go, and who is lagging woefully, and somewhat peevishly, behind. Ah, youth.

Enter the forest. The first morning, I asked Fia to sit, as usual, told her to stay until released to bolt off and unattached her leash. I then removed Rapide's leash and turned to follow Fia, who had disappeared around the corner and up past Baccarat's tree. I know that if you turn and look at Rapide, she ceases her lumbering movement and sits. If you continue walking, and then glance back out of the very corner of your eye, so imperceptibly as to insure that it escapes her notice, you will see her trotting along like a much younger dog.

An aside, Sam did not believe me the first evening, and he was inclined to worry about her ability to keep up.



"I think Rapide can't keep up. Look, she keeps sitting down, and she limps when she walks."

"Don't worry. She's faking. She just wants us to turn around and go straight home. Don't pay attention to her. Just keep walking and she'll catch up. Trust me."

Some little distance further along the trail, Fia scampering about me, darting in and out of the trees in the deeper snow, rushing forward and racing back, I hear Sam again.



"Really. I think she can't."

"She can."

"Are you sure?"

"Wait until we turn back and she knows we're on our way to her food bowl. She's fine. Just keep on walking, and she'll catch up."

Incidentally, she did.

The very next morning, well accustomed to this behavior, I turned my head 2° and slid my eyeballs as far to the left as they would go, allowing me a view of the trail behind.

Nothing. No limping Labrador. Nada. I walked a little further on, thinking "Go ahead. Follow your own advice" before I slid my eyeballs to the left again, in case she had gotten within a distance to be able to catch me looking. Nothing. No dog. I called her. I walked a few more steps. I turned. I called her again, and then I called Fia, and we went off to search for her. Baccarat had done this to me some years before, and I was panicked then. She was there, though, when I got back. Sam had found her lying outside the room door on the 3rd floor. She knew her way home, and the automatic sliding door to the hotel makes a great luxury dog door for the independent dog.

"Maybe," I thought, "Rapide is a lot smarter than my husband thinks."

I was disappointed. No Rapide when I returned to the hotel. I headed to the car, fed Fia, crossed paths with Sam on his way from the boulangerie to go pick up ski boots, stopped to speak with another hotel guest and pet her dog, and then I saw Sam gesture to me, looking up the road to the forest. Rapide. He took off up the street and returned a few minutes later, an unrepentant Labrador retriever in tow by her collar.

I was chastised. She did know her way back. So, where on earth had she been all that time? Who knows where she had, or had not, been looking for me and Fia.

On the second morning, I had another plan: keep Rapide on leash until well into the forest, after her point of no return. Triumph. She was tricked into her walk in the Moraine.

And know this, Rapide plays. Yes. She plays with other dogs, and she is most particularly motivated by male dogs.

She was a breeding dog, after all.

Here are Fia and Rapide, and a few of their old (Artisan) and new (Sago, Celia and Spetten) winter friends in Argentière. I missed getting them with the Australian Collie and the two other black Labrador retrievers, Clara and Lucy. Please note Rapide's intentional involvement and liveliness.

I told you. And, you should see the 14-year-old Lab who prances right along on leash next to her mistress, an American living in Geneva with a chalet in Argentière.

What did I do wrong? I mean about Rapide and my relationship to money and wealth.

At least my dogs are contented, even if Rapide would rather I not notice.

*Pervers, -erse, adj. et subst.
2. PSYCHOPATHOL. Qui caratérise un pervers constitutionnel (v. infra). Disposition perverse. Du point de vie médico-légal, (...) il convient d'apprécier dans quelle mesure un act pervers est le résultat dans l'intention de mal faire, d'une libération volontaire des tendances mauvaises de la naure, ou l'effet malfaisant d'une détérioration pathologique de la personnalité morale (Porot1960)

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