Red’s a smart, fine-lookin’ dog

A few days ago my funny, clever, multitalented daughter asked if Red Dog had come up with any questions lately. I had to think for a minute; he hadn’t. Somewhat later – just today, actually – I realized why that was. Red and I haven’t had much trail time lately, just the two of us. (He never asks me anything when Mrs. Smith is around.)

With that in mind, Red and I set out this morning for a walk down by the Colorado River, which is still tryna freeze. The temperature was around 20F degrees when we started. Most of the ice I’d seen on Corn Lake in late January was gone. We went east for a mile or so on the river trail, then across a pedestrian bridge and up a steep, switchbacked cutout to the top of a bluff.

Trail down steep switchbacks by the Colorado River
Heading back down to the river.

Along the way, as if on cue, Red asked me why I spend so much time doing whatever it is I do on this computer or on the other one in my home office.

“Most of that is called earning a living so we can buy dog food and treats and .…” I stopped about there because I could tell by the cold stare that he got the point.

“I’m teasing you, Red,” I said. “Feeding you is a real bargain and we’re happy to do it. You’re family!”

He smiled at that, with those big brown eyes. We kept walking.

He’d asked a great question. I’ve seen many writers respond by saying things like “I can’t not write” and “because I must” and so on. My reasons are pretty simple to explain, at least when humans ask: My job is writing and editing.

I’m fortunate that people pay me to do that sort of thing. I didn’t try to explain that to Red, and I didn’t get into why I’m putting these particular words in this particular order right now, but that’s not complicated, either.

I do it because I enjoy doing it.

I do it because I enjoy doing it. I like making stuff up and I like writing true stuff. It doesn’t matter much if anyone reads this, but I do appreciate those who do.

Back to the walk, which was interrupted as almost every walk with Red Dog gets interrupted, sometimes more than once. Men on the trail never say much beyond hello, if that. But women…

This morning the woman walking toward us, with a guy I’d guess was her husband or partner or whatever, said with a big smile on her face, “Oh, you’re so cute! I’m gonna take you home with me!”

Red assumed she was talking to him, and I suspect he’s right. Nobody talks to me like that.

Write on,

B.J.

Red Dog asks: What’s a horse?

Red Dog Smith lives with Mrs. Smith and me near a state park in Colorado, a short walk from the Colorado River and a recreational trail that runs alongside it. Curious as a young child, he asks a lot of questions, at least when just the two of us are out for a walk.

He noticed this morning that what he surmised was a bigger dog – because a lot of four-legged creatures are bigger than he is – had pooped a lot of poop right on the concrete trail between our place and Corn Lake.

He looked at me with those big brown eyes. “When I take a dump, why do we always have to stop and pick it up and take it with us?”

Red Dog on the trail by Corn Lake

“Good question, Red,” I told him. “If everyone just left it lying around, the world would be way more stinky and unpleasant than it is and people would be stepping in poop all the time and swearing a lot more.”

“So why didn’t someone pick up all that dog poop?”

Another great question, and a learning opportunity. “Well, first of all Red, I don’t know. And that isn’t actually dog poop. It’s what we refer to as horseshit. In other words, it’s poop that comes from a horse.”

He nodded, letting that sink in a bit. “So why didn’t someone pick up the horseshit and put it in a bag?”

I’d been wondering the same thing. You don’t mind too much when a cow gets loose and leaves a pie or two along a gravel road out in the middle of nowhere, or even when a horse leaves a little horseshit off the edge of the trail.

“You know, Red, I guess some people forget to bring a poop bag along now and then, and some people just don’t care enough to pick up after their own dog. So I suppose some people who have horses forget to bring bags or don’t care enough about keeping things nice to pick up after their own horse. You’d think they could at least scrape it off the feckin trail.”

“It’s one of those ‘life’s mysteries’ you told me about, right?”

“Exactly,” I said, pleased to know he’d been paying attention a few weeks ago.

He nodded and turned to move along, pulling a bit on the leash before coming to a sudden stop next to the nearest pile.

“What’s a horse?” he asked.

Questions, questions, questions. “Later, Red,” I said. “I’ll show you some pictures.”


If your own dog has questions, please share them here and we’ll do our best to answer them.

B.J.

Dogs and old men on a Colorado trail

Red Dog Smith and I ventured out of the office late this morning for a walk down to the river. Mrs. Smith was out hiking with some friends after ignoring my sage advice to always have a pocket knife when hiking. Who doesn’t carry a pocket knife into the wild?

Red Dog on a Colorado trail.
Red Dog on a Colorado trail

Anyhow, the river isn’t far, and we got all the short way there without seeing another human being or another canine. We decided we are OK with having a trail completely to ourselves now and then.

On the way back, it got busy. We saw a total of three human beings – one walking his black Lab, two others going different directions on their bicycles.

To be more specific, we saw three elderly guys. All three had what some would call white hair, but I prefer to characterize as silver.

Sensing a pattern here?

Seeing three people in half an hour or so is what passes for busy in our rocky little chunk of Mesa County.

We also saw:

Two quick-footed lizards.

Butterflies.

Contrails criss-crossing the clear blue sky.

An enormous flat-topped mountain to the east of us.

On the way back, almost at the front door, I realized I have become some guy who writes about his lunch break now and then. I am OK with that. Red doesn’t seem to care.

Like a dog waiting

So Mrs. Smith is away for a few days again, meaning there will be a lot of whining and moping and waiting by the door, feeling sorry for…

The dog, I mean. The dog.

Waiting…

Red Dog Smith feels sorry for himself when she’s not around. He doesn’t handle this well.