The answer to the question, “you talking to me?” is probably, “no.” I’m usually talking to Riggins. Given I’m with him more than any other living being this make sense. Normally it’s not confusing since it’s just the two of us in our house. There isn’t anyone to even question our conversations but the hill is a different story! There are a ton of humans there to experience my crazy.
More than once I’ve managed to confuse humans by my commands to my dog. I try to make it obvious that I’m not just walking up a giant hill and through a canyon mumbling to myself and barking out orders like a person who escaped from an insane asylum. I keep Riggin’s leash around my waist in easy view and pat his butt or grab his tail when he walks by. Still he is usually far enough away from me that my outbursts toward him and his behavior can cause confusion.
I have had strange looks when yelling, “come on, shake a tail feather” when Riggins is lagging behind and “hey buddy, hold your horsies” when he is too far ahead of me. It doesn’t help that, while going downhill, he is often behind me looking for ground squirrels to gobble up and I stop, turn around to glare in his direction. My stare often goes through other human hikers as I clap and say, “let’s go.” Once I looked back to check on Riggins and realized a gentleman thought I was staring at him. It took awhile to shift my focus as I was looking behind him to check on my dog. He took a beat and then smugly nodded his head with a “yes it’s me” attitude. I thought he was a freak until further down the hill when it hit me that he was an actor on a crime TV show, CSI or one of those. He was still a freak but at least his actions made sense.
Once, near the top of the trail I unhooked Riggins and his good friend Morgan (a standard poodle) who was with us that day. After walking a few steps I yelled, “COME ON BOYS. LET’S GO” in a very theatrical voice accompanied by an appropriate arm swing and “westward ho” point. My exclamation to the dogs happened just as I passed a gaggle of men. They all looked at each other, shrugged, and followed me as if to say, “she said let’s go … what are we waiting for?”
Going up the spine one day a little boy with his dad was trying to make it down the toughest part. The steep incline caused him to decide shuffling along on his butt was safest. A human sitting down anywhere on the hill is Riggins signal that he should be in their lap getting hugs and kisses. I’ve seen him lick the face of kids butt scooting down that hill but this kid did not seem like he’d be into it. I growled out, “leave him alone” in a very scary commanding voice. The dad looked at me as if I was out of my mind. He had assumed I was talking to his son. Can you imagine? What freak would think it was okay to growl at another person’s son????
Just last week we were going up a precarious section and Riggins thought it would be okay to stop right at the top blocking my path as well as other hikers. Exasperated I sighed, “you are in the way, move.” A poor young woman in front of Riggins apologized profusely as she moved to the side. I felt horrible and had to point out I was talking to the dog, not her. Who would say that to a fellow human hiker?
Breaking this all down I wonder if I’m seen as the bully of the hill. The bully with the oddly friendly dog. Perhaps. Oh well. Everyone on the hill should just assume when I’m talking it isn’t to them!
(Picture of Riggins in flight.)