Crosswinds: Dog Days of Summer 2020

The author’s Labrador retriever is living her best life, but change is coming

© Jesse Ehren

Right now, the living is easy. She spends her days running on the beach, riding in the bow of the boat, barking at pelicans, and sleeping it all off on our bed. With Julie and I bunkered down at home, Minnie is the winner. She has 24/7 access to human companionship, kindness, and the benefits of wearing us down for attention. Yes, you can tear the filling out of your new chew toy and drag it all over the house. Yes, you can raid the garbage. Please, just leave us alone so we can get some honest work done. She’s mastered the new system, posting up at her feed bowl earlier and earlier each day, gradually chipping away at dinner time so now we just throw in the towel and fill up the grub by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I know I should be a more disciplined master. But I’ve let a lot of things go over the last few months. Any semblance of dog training. My hair, my hygiene, my social media limits. Might have to let another inch or two in my belt go if I’m not careful. Loosening the reins on my Labrador retriever has just been one more accommodation to this moment in history, but we both will benefit as soon as I decide it’s time to knuckle down and restore order. Which is about now.

The fact is, once I get her off the sofa, Minnie will agree that tuning up is big fun. I suspect she’s ready for a better routine. We’re all happier when we can see the side rails.

So, for a few more days, I’m looking past her head in the garbage can, her face on Julie’s lap at dinner, and her thickening waist. But soon I’m laying down the law. Back to retrieving bumpers. Back to sitting and staying. Back to punching the clock as a working dog for a few minutes each day.

For now, then, count your blessings, little girl, and sure, you can have the rest of this cinnamon bun. But in a week, we’re going back to the way things used to be. Soon enough we’ll all be shivering in the cattails and hauling canoes to the swamp. We’ll both be glad we ran a tighter ship throughout the summer.

I might even get my hair cut. But, then again, I might not. I’m working on a wicked curly mullet, nearly four months strong. It’s my best effort since my college days in the long-gone last century. Even during the hard times, a fellow needs to hang on to the silver linings.