Every Sunday morning it’s decent outside, Steve and I take our dog, Louise, for a walk. She pulls on the leash for the first block or so on our way to the Monon Trail, then settles down into a nice trot—stopping occasionally, paw raised, at the sight of a distant squirrel or for some (usually) friendly butt-sniffing with other dogs we meet along the way. There are “bodily functions,” of course. Always in exactly the same places.
Our first stop is Einstein’s Bagels, but we have to leave the trail and navigate a wide parking lot to get there. “Navigate” because Broad Ripple Village is the scene of great revelry on Saturday nights, which means a plethora of residue on Sunday morning. Good residue (for Louise) being the occasional abandoned burrito or cheeseburger; bad being glass, aluminum foil and, well, vomit, which I am sorry to say Louise finds quite tasty, so we have to save her from herself. She also enjoys the occasional morsel of poop. Yuck! What’s that about?
Anyway. At Einstein’s we sit at a table outside and feed Louise the excess cream cheese from our bagels on coffee stirring sticks. So cute when she gets it on her whiskers.
Then, onward. More bodily functions, more squirrels, more butt-sniffing. The Monon Trail, a greenway made on the track bed of the old Monon Railway, is like a long vertical park that runs through Indianapolis. The part we like to walk goes north, past the Art Center, over the White River, and through a pretty wooded area. On a nice day there are walkers, runners, cyclists, roller-bladers, and babies in strollers. The mood is festive on an unseasonably warm October morning like this one, the last yellow leaves raining down through the dusty sunlight to land with a whisper on the pavement.
Louise trots on until we approach the second bridge over the winding river, at which point she slows down, glances back at us, and then makes a U-turn. It amazes us every time that she knows exactly the place where we always turn and head home. Every time we laugh. We never had a dog before Louise, and even though she’s nearly eleven it’s still a surprise to us what a creature of habit she is.
When we get back to the Village, she turns again—and picks up her pace because she knows that the dog bakery is next on our route. When we get there, she stops and waits. Or, if the door is open, she goes right on in, heads for the counter, and bellies up for her free treat. Sometimes River, the black Lab is there, and bellies up to meet her. Not today, though. Louise gets her cookie treat; then we buy her usual two “ribs” from the big glass case of fabulous bakery treats for dogs. After a drink of water from the big bowl just inside the door, it’s back to the street again.
Today she scores half a hot dog and a piece of pizza on the sidewalk. Once she found a half of a loaf of French bread, which she carried the better part of a mile—until, much to her distress, it dissolved from her saliva and she had to stop and eat what was left of it.
She is a very happy dog on Sunday mornings. At home, she curls up in a slant of sun on the sofa and sleeps the rest of the day away, dreaming whatever dogs dream. Squirrels? Cute guy dogs? Streets full of tacos and cheeseburgers just there for the taking?