ABF_8002

DOG DAYS

By Adam Ford

The afternoon sun streams through the bay window, warming a patch of the floor where Seera and Teco lay on the rug. Teco sleeps, his head nestled on his front paws, unaware of the time of day, but Seera’s ears are alert for the familiar sound.

A few cars pass by outside but she disregards them, sits up and stretches out her front legs, shaking her head a little bit to ready herself. She knows I’m due home soon. Seera stands up and shakes again, jostling Teco out of his dreamtime, he watches as Seera runs to the dog door and scoots through. Then, slowly, he gets his old bones up and gamely follows along. The big truck pulls in to the driveway and Seera runs to the gate, standing up with her paws on the spot where all of the paint has been rubbed off from countless days like this.

“Hi girl!”

Seera’s head is poised to be rubbed. She revels in the attention, then drops to the ground when I throw the bolt and push the gate open. Teco arrives and I crouch down to scratch their ears. The best part of the day has arrived for all of us. Soon we’ll go for a short drive to a field or a trail or just along a dirt road. Every few days we go up to the farm to say hello to the dogs there, Echo and Callie, and all of us, dogs and humans alike, enjoy the sights and smells of the country.

Today we’re not going far—just to the big field by the river. When the door of the truck is opened, Seera jumps to the seat in one leap, then makes a second hop to the back seat. Teco needs a quick lift to get to the floor of the truck, then he climbs his way to the front seat. He is getting old, but still loves to get out into the fields and roam.

mini-cooper and dog

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Late in the summer a new car is delivered to the house. It is very small. The tires are the size of a riding lawn mower’s.
“Hey pups! Let’s go for a ride!”
I open the gate and Seera runs to the truck, standing eagerly next to the door, but I head toward the new little car and open it up.
“Hop in!”

Teco cocks his head in a questioning look, but Seera quickly runs over and pokes her nose inside. It smells interesting, like old leather and horsehair, and after considering the smell, she tentatively jumps up onto the front seat. It’s a much easier jump, as the seat is so low to the ground compared to the truck. Seera springs easily to the bench seat in the back to let Teco climb in the front. That’s his place and Seera seems to know that. Both of the dogs sit tall in these small seats and look around, watching the trees sweep by as the tiny car zips along the back roads to one of the trails that we like to hike along.

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The Mini becomes the main transportation to our daily walks. Teco enjoys the ease with which he can get in and out and Seera likes the smooth back seat where she can lay down when she’s tired after a good day of running in the fields.

One day, everybody loads up into the Mini and we drive up and over the hills to another house. Both dogs eagerly jump to the driveway to meet up with Juno and Matsu, who sniff and greet them with curiosity. Juno is playful and she and Seera race around the two small cars in the driveway. Matsu, even though he is the youngest, is more aloof, like Teco, and quietly regards the other dogs and people as everyone prepares for the upcoming drive. When a woman called their names, Juno and Matsu obediently race over and scramble into a low, red car with a silver octagon on its hood.

Soon both cars are racing along the back roads. Seera rests her head on my shoulder and gazes out the window. Teco sits and watches the red car ahead of us. It doesn’t have a top on it, so the passengers can all stick their heads up in the wind. Both Juno and Matsu are cozied up in the front alongside the woman driving—Matsu with his head on the doorsill, Juno with hers held up high, enjoying the breezes. The Mini catches up to the MG on the downhills, but the MG separates itself from the less-powerful car when both of them climb up the winding roads.

After a while, the dogs are getting itchy to run around, and they’re rewarded as the vehicles pull into a dirt parking lot by a lake. Everyone tumbles out of the cars for a long spell of running and exploring along the criss-crossing paths that circle the lake. The humans stroll and chat, while the four dogs venture out and back, picking up all of the scents that their ancestors used to be so keen on. Teco would wander the farthest away and sometimes Seera would join him, but she’d routinely circle back just to check in before pointing her nose away again. Juno and Matsu zeroed in on noises and odors off to either side but also checked back in when called.

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After a great excursion, the two little cars once again zoom about the mountain roads and end up at a friendly restaurant where there are three more small cars parked—another MG, but painted deep green, a yellow squarish Triumph, and a low, sleek black Healey 100. The egress from the cars is more orderly this time, and the dogs are aware they must behave. The leashes are hooked up and the four dogs are tied to a fence in the shade of a tall hedge. Another dog, Roscoe, is already there, and all the furry companions greet each other before settling down to snooze while the group sits at a table talking, eating, and laughing.
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There are more outings like that during the fall, but eventually winter sets in, the Mini gets stowed in the garage, and the big truck carries Teco, Seera and myself to their walks.
Teco has to be lifted all the way to the seat now, and Seera doesn’t make the jump all the way up, but climbs up from the floor like Teco used to do.

The Mini came out of the garage late in the spring, as the snow took its sweet time to melt. When the roads finally cleared we took a lot of drives catching up with lost time. It must have been a little odd to them, I would find some seemingly random destinations, we’d stop numerous times, and I’d get out and snap a picture of the Mini next to a sign or building or some strange structure. Eventually we’d get somewhere new and take a walk through a park or out in the middle of nature.

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Sometimes we’d visit the woman with the red MG and go for an exhilarating drive, punctuated by a long walk or an afternoon at a roadside pub. Juno and Matsu had a new sister, Tamaki, who was young and curious, but my dogs preferred to keep close to me. That summer we took a long trip in the Mini, stopping at many places and visiting friends. We stayed at the lake where I had been going my whole life, and we spent days soaking up the sun on the porch of the family cabin.
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Time has passed since Teco and then Seera left my side and this earth, but when I pull the Mini out of the garage and go on drives—long and short, near and far—I picture them with their eyes on the scenery, noses smelling the breezes, happy to be near me, wherever I’m going.

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