Sharing custody of a black Labrador
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be divorced and not living with my children. It is bad enough to be sharing custody of my black Labrador with her father.
I was able to see Bailey for a few days last week. Parting company yesterday was especially sad because I do not know when I will see her again.
Unfortunately I do not have a place of my own yet so she cannot come to Tahoe. For now seeing her means going to her dad’s in Lake County. Fortunately Mike and I have an amiable relationship so visiting Bailey is no big deal — except for the drive and time.
When I was on my bike a week ago I thought about the trail I was on and how Bailey would have loved it because of the scents and sporadic pockets of water.
Bailey has been my hiking buddy for years. Now that she is 9 she is slowing down a bit. It used to be that she would jet ahead of me, pause, look back to make sure I was still plodding along, and then continue on scouting the trail.
Now she is closer to my side for most of the hike.
Friday was no different. We had the trails in Boggs State Forest to ourselves. There were a couple campers, but no other people. We saw the occasional squirrel scurrying up a tree and the birds chirping overhead.
Whenever I hike with Bailey I try to find an area that has water. She is like most Labs — a magnet to water. We meandered down the creek trail, where the creek is but a trickle this time of year. That did not deter her. She knew where we were and sprang ahead to romp in what water there was.
I whistled for her that is was time to carry on. She just looked at me with those big brown eyes that make you understand the phrase “puppy dog eyes.” I could not decide if she did not want to leave or she wanted me to explain where the deep water disappeared to.
When there is no water for her to lap up or we are on a dry stretch she drinks from my water bottle. When I have my CamelBak on I take a sip and dribble it into her mouth. It may seem odd, but we have a system that works for us.
When I am planning a visit Mike tells Bailey that “the ball lady” is coming. This dog is a tennis ball junky. She now has custody of my basket of balls that I would use to practice my serve.
Charles Schulz had a perfect cartoon that Mike and I had taped to our refrigerator. The gist of it is that Slobber Ball is a sport. Bailey could earn a gold medal in it.
It got so gross for our neighbors once that when they were taking care of Bailey they ended up buying a plastic ball launcher for the ball. This way you do not have to touch the gooey mess covering the felt. But I am a traditionalist and continue to chuck it with my bare hand.
Some day soon I hope to be able take Bailey for hikes in the Desolation Wilderness, have her swim in Lake Tahoe and chase balls on my property.
I better go call my real estate agent. I need a house for my dog.
Kathryn Reed is managing editor of the Tahoe Tribune. She may be reached at (530) 541-3880, ext. 251 or email@example.com
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