Annie gets it. Bella doesn't.

Since the layoffs happened at a client's office, I've been trying to figure out how to get from the train to the client's office without having to bother Doyle. I usually try to catch a ride from Doyle or a coworker of his, on their way to work. Given the said coworker was laid off, I need to come up with a different solution.

Wanting to inconvenience people as little as possible, I figure I can walk or bike from the train station. Walking would take too long, yet biking requires a cumbersome-on-a-train bike.

Think.

Think.

Think.

I emailed Beth to ask her opinion of her scooter. With her glowing review, I decided to purchase a Xootr. It arrived a couple nights ago, so I took it out for a spin.

I couldn't think of a better reason to go out on a scooter than to walk the dog. No way could I manage two dogs, but one dog might be okay. I leashed up Annie, hopped on the the scooter and off we went.

After the first tug, Annie seemed to understand I was on a scooter and moving quickly. She ran in front of me, running as fast as I was scooting, sometimes a little faster tugging the leash and pulling me along, sometimes more slowly but not enough for me to catch up very much. We zipped down to the corner lickety split, turned around, and zipped back to the house.

High on Annie's success, I unleashed her in the house, then clipped Bella in for my next scoot. We turned left in front of the house and started moving. Instead of intelligently running out, way out, in front of the scooter, Bella decided to zig in front of me, fewer than three feet in front of the front wheel. I lurched on the handbrake, stopping quickly while accidently yanking the dog back.
Okay, that was just one misstep. We tried again. I started moving on the scooter again. Bella decided to zag, all of two feet in front of me. I stopped again, and tried again.

After maybe 80 feet, I decided that, yes, Annie gets it, but Bella? Hell no. That dog does NOT understand scooter and get the heck out of the way dog!

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 Bad dog!

Bad dog, Bella! Bad dog!

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 For the big one...

You know dog, the big pillow is for the big dog, not for the little dog to just be comfy.

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 Doggen walken to Starsbucken

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The dogs and I went for a walk today, longer than our normal walk. Since I've become so addicted to short Starbucks Signature Hot Chocolates, I decided that I could have one, and enjoy it guilt-free, if I walked to the Starbucks to purchase it. A walk to the nearest Starbucks would pretty much be a waste of time if I didn't take the dogs, too (that, or listen to a podcast), so off the three of us went.

Fortunately, "walking to Starbucks" doesn't mean "take the normal route" or "take the longest route." We started on our normal route, heading south, then turning west. Last time I took the girls this way, along the long walk route, they took to *sprinting* across the street, then *screeching* to a halt as their noses caught wind of an interesting smell, which, on a new path, meant every 15 feet.

Today, we walked along the sidewalks near the local middle school. Several classes of kids were out for gym class, which started by running around the perimeter of the school's athletic fields (about 10 acres or so), before stopping at the tennis courts. My heart went out to the stragglers in the bunch. I so wanted to tell them "learn how to play ultimate, here, I'll show you."

I didn't, though.

When we arrived at the Starbucks, I tied the girls up to a post and went in. Unfortunately, the line was annoyingly long, and, despite the loud din in the store, I could *still* hear Bella howling outside. Dogs.

I asked the woman in front of me if she could order me a short Signature hot chocolate and handed her $5. When I left to calm the dogs, then came back in to see where she was in line, she needed to leave the line for her son who REALLY needed to pee. I offered to buy her what she wanted, which was fortunately only a $1 milk. She handed me a $10, but I passed it back to her with the milk, which sorta weirded her out, I think.

Tragically, the hot chocolate was a regular, and not a Signature, so I was massively disappointed in the drink.

We started back home, taking a less trafficked route than our walk out. We walked along a fence that bordered a sports field next to a park. As we were passing the field, a squirrel sat out in the middle of the field, watching us.

I couldn't resist.

We wandered onto the field, with Annie crouching low, and Bella completely oblivious. I released Annie, and watched her slink sprint close to the squirrel, then shirt into full speed as the squirrel took off. She *almost* caught it when it zigged up a tree then leaped back to the fence. Annie was under the squirrel as it leaped, and only barely missed it. The speed of the chase was impressive.

The walk wasn't completely fun and games, though. At one point, we walked by a house where a good dozen people somberly walked out, all dressed in black, saying little. I wanted to offer my condolences on their loss, but thought that might be just a little too weird.

We also managed to visit a napping mail carrier, who was sleeping in his truck. I thought about taking a picture, but figured that it might get the guy in trouble. I somehow managed to refrain.

I'm glad we went for the walk, though I do wish the hot chocolate tasted better.

 Lockwood hike and home

Kris and I managed to sleep most of the night through last night, with Kris' waking to the smell of Andy's coffee and my waking to the thud of an excited Blue landing on top of me, bringing the tent down in the process.

Nothing like using a sixty pound dog as wake up call.

That same dog makes a great escort in the middle of the night when there might be coyotes and other large animals roaming around, and you're not sure if it's safe to walk around the small building, across a small open space to the other side of the hilltop, in order to pee.

Andy thinks that Blue didn't actually sleep last night, that he maintained watch the whole night. I know that Annie wriggled her way out of the tent in order to sit watch for a while. She did, however, recognize the warmth of the tent, and wormed her way back into the tent, sitting on Kris' head in the process.

This morning, I was, unsurprisingly, the last person up, with Bella being the last of the seven of us actually getting up.

After breakfast, a meal that Bella thought meant, "We're going home!" but really meant, we're heading off for another hike. Having climbed to the top of the hill he'd been wanting to climb, and discovering another hill beyond it, he decided he wanted to climb THAT hill to see if there was another hill beyond it.

Interestingly enough, I think all of the dogs have decided that I am the source of all that is good. That is to say, food.

So, off we went on our hike, pretty much following the same trail that Kris and Andy (and Blue and Shadow and Annie and mostly Bella) took yesterday. The six of us (where the six of us were the seven of us minus Bella, who was, once again, on her own hike again) went out the back way, down the hill, up the next one, and along the ridge. Up and over a couple hills, to the top of one hill, to discover the next range of hills after that range.

For the way back, we decided not to go back the same way we came up, and opted instead to hike back "towards the water tower." We found a copse of pine trees, though how they survived, much less grew so big, on the top of the hill with little water, I have no idea.

Bella kept up with us, following her own path, sometimes being ahead of us, sometimes being behind us, but always walk walk walking at her own pace.

At one point, I stopped to squat, and Bella passed me, to catch up with Kris and Andy. Kris decided to wait for me, Andy decided to continue. At that point, we lost Andy. He went off either down toward a large ravine or down towards a dropoff of unknown height. We decided to try to the left, towards the large ravine.

After a few hundred meters, Kris was less confident about the direction we were going, so decided to turn around. Bella was in front of us when we made this decision, being the only dog with us. I hurried up to her, turned her around, and hustled her back the way we had come.

We had walked just far enough for Bella to disappear over the hill we were scrambling up when we heard Andy call out to us, why were we walking back the wrong way? Eh?

We called for Bella to come back, but, being on her own hike, she just kept going. We turned back back around, headed back to the ravine, scrambled up and around around the ravine, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Must to my pleasant surprise, Bella figured out our mistake, had turned around, and was coming back our way. She didn't seem too pleased about our mistake, deciding not to greet us when she caught up to use, and just walked right by.

Much like yesterday, according to Kris.

We wandered down to the bottom of Crews Hill, walked up Crews Road to the top of the hill, and gathered up our stuff. The dogs were sufficiently tired out to sleep all the way back home.

I'm happy to say when we made it home, I was able to stop by a Starbucks and buy a hot chocolate. A premium hot chocolate.

One I'd been talking about for the previous day, to Andy's consternation, I think.

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