The case of the recalcitrant canine
Monday, June 24, 2019 at 04:44PM

Subtitle: Rizzo refuses to ramble.

This post falls firmly into the category of Recent Developments.

As in, Rizzo -- who has been basically walking me for many weeks -- suddenly and without warning, about ten days ago, decided not to walk, but to balk.


The first time it happened was on an ordinary day. We were in the habit of going walkies right around midday.

Our walk takes place strictly in our neighborhood, and, as its distance is approximately two miles, lasts about twenty-five minutes.

Rizzo's habit has been to begin jumping and expressing other signs of joy and enthusiasm the moment I appear dressed in the clothes I wear to walk.

So I'd harness him up and put on my hat and sunnies, and away we'd go.

He practically couldn't wait until the garage door was up to go bolting out into the sunshine and begin checking his messages.

I'd catch up with him in the side yard (that's as far as he'd get) after closing said garage door, and we'd start down the street.

He loved to apply the brakes every few feet in order to mark the random bush or mailbox, but other than that, Rizzo trotted ahead of me with pronounced alacrity.

Until that day, week before last.

We were not even to the halfway point -- where we round a circle and start back towards home -- when Rizzo became stationary. Positively inert.

At first I thought he wanted to leave a drop or two as a greeting for another dog. So I waited.

But he wasn't lifting a hair, much less a hind leg. He simply stood there, looking at me.

I tugged the leash and urged him with my voice, to get a move on.

He gazed at the space around him. And blinked.

I tugged harder. (He wears a harness so I was not pulling on his neck.)

Even so, I had to pull so hard that the harness nearly came off over his neck. Something it is not designed to do.

What is wrong with you? I demanded of my dog. I'd never seen anything like it.

Rizzo continued looking at me.

The more I tugged, the more mulish he became. I thought of a line from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, uttered by the cute pirate himself:

"That dog is never going to move."

Okay, I said. I'll carry you for three mailboxes. Then you're back on your own legs. Got it?

Rizzo made no reply as I heaved him into my arms.

We trudged along. Three mailboxes later, as promised, I returned him to the pavement.

The little sucker is heavy.

I know you're waiting with bated breath. Did he walk?

That would be an emphatic no.

We stood there for an amount of time, the length of which I don't remember.

I coaxed and I cooed. I attempted to reason with Rizzo, reminding him of how much he loves our walk. Because he appeared to have forgotten.

Finally I had no choice. Do you want to go back home? I asked him, turning as if to reverse our direction of travel.

Immediately Rizzo trotted out in front of me, tautening the leash. In that fashion, with his customary level of ambulatory involvement, he led me home.

Well I never, I thought as, back in the cool kitchen, I un-harnessed him. I'll have to look this up on the internet.

So I did, and what do you know? It's a thing. An actual thing.

It turns out that there are many reasons a dog may suddenly refuse to walk. 

There are the obvious ones: he has a sore paw or some other pain point (nope -- Rizzo makes nary a whine or a groan or a yip or any other indication that he is experiencing discomfort); he doesn't understand the concept of walking on a leash (nope -- usually it's his idea); it's too hot (nope -- temperature wasn't an issue); or he's afraid of something (nope -- unless bushes and yards scare him. I think not).

Or it could be that, just like humans tend to be, he's being lazy.

Yep. I think we have our answer.

Since that day, one time, Rizzo and I made it a fraction of the distance we reached the first time he balked.

Again, with no warning, he flat-out refused to budge until we started back for home.

I was denied my constitutional right to a constitutional that day, and I resented it.

So next time, I harnessed him up and tried to get him to go towards the door.

Not going to happen. He balked in the kitchen, refusing to walk even a few feet.

Today, I took the pictures that illustrate this post. I knew he wouldn't walk; these are purely for your benefit.

The first shot was taken in the side yard where he loves to spend several minutes prior to the walk (the one he'll no longer take).

The second was taken on the street just in front of our house; that's as far as we got before he began impersonating a mule.

The third was taken a few seconds later, when I suggested he go back inside while I took a walk without the privilege of his company.

You can see how well that notion was received.

He pulled me back up towards the garage and, just as he used to wait impatiently for it to open so that he could go out, he waited even more impatiently for it to open so that he could go back in.

I walked alone. I'm guessing that until further notice, that's the way it's going to be.

My lazy mutt, who used to live for walkies, is currently flaked out by my side.

And that is all for now.


Happy Monday

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