Negotiating with Cookies – What the Leash Is Really For

Fleegle sometimes pulls on the leash when I walk him. It’s not a lot, just enough to keep the leash taught and off the ground, but if a dog has recently walked the path we are on and its scent trail is strong, then Fleegle is another dog entirely. He’ll stop and sniff a fern, then dash off to trail the scent, snapping the leash tight and dragging me behind him like a grounded kite. Then he’ll stop and sniff the next fern and the surrounding area, debating for ages in that furry dog head of his whether to pee or not to pee on another dog’s pee. When he chooses not to pee after taking an especially long time analyzing a particular leaf, I admit to being disappointed, like somehow he hasn’t finished his job and something needs to be done about it.

As I’m being dragged to the next scent that requires sniffing and analysis, you’ll often hear me saying “All that sniffing and waiting in the cold rain and you’re not going to pee on it? Not even a dribble?” But I haven’t become so inseparable from my dog that I feel it’s my duty to finish the job for him. Not yet at least.

As we start down the trail, I realize today is going to be one of those walks because Fleegle’s ears are up and his nose is down and he’s putting his weight against the leash attached to his harness. I’m wishing I knew how to skateboard when I say, “Fleegle, slow down. You’re pulling my arm out of its socket.”

“Try to keep up, Raud. You’re slowing me down. This pee is fresh, that’s lots of news to be had before it dries out.”

It has been raining everyday for as far back as I can remember, admittedly my memory gets a little fuzzy when it comes to the rain—I remember it much more easily than the sun—fields turned to mud long ago, the skies are forever overcast and dark in a perpetual dusk. To top it off I keep catching the scent of mildew and I’m pretty sure it’s coming from me. As Fleegle drags me to the next twig with a droplet of urine on it, I hit a tipping point, freeze in my tracks and shout, “Stop.”

He does and turns to look at me, not pulling but tugging on his leash. “But Raud…”

“No buts. No more pulling. No more dragging me through the mud just to sniff wiz.”

He stops fidgeting, sits on the path and tilts his head to one side. “Raud, do you know what the leash is really for?”

“Of course I do. It’s to keep you safe.”

He shakes his head. “You think you know everything but you know so little. Do you know why I put up with wearing the leash?”

“Because there’d be no walks without it?” I should be putting my foot down and saying that like it’s a matter of fact, but it comes out as a question.

He shakes his head again. “Wrong. I wear it as a favor to you. You refer to it as my leash, but it is really your leash. We both know that without a leash tethering you to me, there’s not a cat-butt chance you’d be able to find your way back to the car on your own with that tiny nub on your face you call a nose. You can’t scent discriminate a burrito from a bacon cheeseburger with that nib.” He stands and gently pulls on the leash toward further adventure down the path. “So lagging on your leash and shouting and being an overall killjoy is no way to treat a friend doing you a big favor every time you step out of the car or house. Without me you’d be one of those guys holding up a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Do you know where my home is?’ You’d be going from person to person, asking if they knew where your house was until one of them took mercy on you and loaned you their dog to show you the way home.”


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