Title - Parkland Wonderland

Smelling the Smells

Harry made the rounds, visiting the usual trees, checking out the canine calling cards and leaving one of his own. We ambled over to the goose pond, which branches off from the dingy brown creek locally known as "the river".

There are no geese today, but there's something a lot more interesting. It's a dead turtle. Harry was intrigued. He'd never smelled a dead turtle before.

I'm not sure what happened to that turtle. He was a big one. His shell was well over a foot across. His shell was intact and he was right side up. From a distance he looked just like a turtle should look. There was no damage to his shell, no obvious signs of foul play. By the looks of it, he just stayed in one spot a little too long.

Harry was starting to get just a little too interested in the turtle. I coaxed him onward before he contracted whatever it is you can catch from a dead turtle. He didn't complain, though. We were just getting started and he was eager to see what else thejourney might reveal. We started out again, with Harry setting a moderate pace.

We reached the end of the first section of parkland and took a shortcut under an overpass, along the bank of the river. There was graffitti on the underside of the overpass and cigarette butts littered the ground. We didn't linger.

We came out into the sunlight, into the next section of the park, which is wide open, with old trees forming a canopy overhead. We wandered lazily from tree to tree, with Harry continuing his olifactory inventory of the park's canine traffic.

This part of the park rarely stays relaxed for long, though. I stayed on alert, ready to run. We were in squirrel central.

Luckily, I spotted the first squirrel a fraction of a second before Harry did, giving my less efficient two-legged architecture a chance to start accelerating for the chase.

Harry went instantaneously from a standstill to full speed. Kicking up dark spring mud, we chased the dandified tree rodent across an open area and up a nearby oak tree. We grinned as we trotted away amid the squirrel's indignant chatter. We're a pretty good pack, Harry and I. Yes indeed.

A dozen more trees and two more high-speed pursuits got us to the next stage of our journey. We continued to follow the river, ducked under another overpass and emerged on the highschool football field.

The field was occupied but not by the football team, or even the girls field hockey team. The field was filled with Canada Geese, all honking and strutting around like they owned the place.

Harry and I spread out in pack formation, ready for action. After all, we are herding dogs. Okay, Harry is a herding dog, I'm just his sidekick, but still, we're a pack.

I was following his lead. We spread out as wide as the leash would allow, with Harry slightly in the lead. He has a natural instinct for this sort of thing - wolfish ancestory and all that.

We crept slowly forward, to avoid frightening our prey. When we got to what Harry decided was the optimal distance, we lunged. Naturally he jumped the gun by a long shot, starting the rush while we were still forty yards away. The geese were more irritated than threatened, but they all took off anyway, in a very satisfying flurry of flapping, hissing and honking. We were pretty pleased with ourselves and headed off across the field, smiling our big doggy smiles.