Harley loved to feel the earth between his toes, and the grains as they smoothed his nails. The backyard laid riddled in holes and canyons. The aftermath of any day left outside without human supervision. Although Harley was always in the company of two other family dogs, neither Rex (the floppy-eared Doberman) nor Beatrice (the raven-haired sheepherding dog) had clots of dirt between their paw pads.
Guilty as always, Mr. Harley.
When I took Harley out into the world, he did not leave his digging habits behind…or any of his other habits for that matter…
I ventured to Venice Beach with Harley, his first trip to the ocean. Sometimes it was just nice to spend the entire day outside with him, but our outdoor adventures almost—actually, never—went as planned.
The Venice Beach shops and walkway were crowded. How could I forget the masses? I’d spent much of my senior year in high school at the beach, and had never successfully strolled the Venice Beach Boardwalk without bumping elbows. A man biked towards us in a threatening manner—at least by Harley’s standards. Immediate evasive action: Harley charged to the end of his leash and reared up on hind legs. His hair rose up along his back, and his growling and barking was more than most people expected out of the muzzle of such a cute puppy. The biker nearly fell sideways off his two-wheeled contraption.
I tried to disappear back into the crowd, promising myself to keep a better hold on my dog. Unfortunately, a flock of innocent pigeons caught Harley’s eye. In a few joyous bounds, he had forced me to let the slack on his leash go. The pigeons took to the air in a cloud of feathers and angry coos. I swear he did it just to watch them flee.
A police officer, standing off to the side of the boardwalk, noticed Harley pulling me through the maze of people. The officer asked me if I was walking the dog or the dog was walking me. Harley resented humans in uniforms so even though I was insulted, I was also relieved he had ignored the cop. Sufficed to say our Saturday morning training classes were not paying off yet.
A tarot card reader beckoned me to sit down and have my cards read. I did not agree at first but the young man insisted. Just as Harley knew, this guy knew I was a pushover. I took a seat in front of a square of tasseled fabric and a deck of cards. I should have said no. Not only did I not need my cards read because I was familiar with the art of fortune telling, I did not have much cash with me. Also, third and most obvious reason not to sit down, Harley.
The sidewalk mystic asked me if I was a water sign. I said yes, admitting I was a wishy-washy Pisces. The tarot reader should have been more concerned with the furry, impetuous Aires I had attached to me. A soon as the young man laid out some cards, Harley plopped his butt down right on top of them. I paid two dollars, which was all I had, and we left.
I ran with Harley to the only safe place I knew, an empty swing set in the sand. Harley was a strange sort of half Lab who hated water but loved the seashell aroma of the ocean. He sat next to me as I swung; but it was not long before he decided to test the sand, one paw sifting around in the grains then his other one. He was right in my path so I had to stop swinging. Soon he was scooping sand and kicking it between his two back legs. After he dug a nice pit, he rested with his body half in and half out.
I went back to swinging careful to lift my feet as I soared above his head. Harley noticed my maneuvers and reversed out of his hole. I dragged my feet to stop, not quite in time. Harley did not intend to move out of my way. He leapt up and paw punched me in the stomach. Silly me, I had disobeyed some rule that humans shouldn’t fly or maybe just not above a digger relaxing in his hole.