Being neighborly

My closest Idaho neighbors - our lots adjoin - moved in a couple of years ago. It was after I had moved back to Seattle to find work, so I haven't gotten to know them. Until this trip.

I knew they had a very old dog. During visits over the past year, from my house I watched her walk to the end of their driveway, or through their field, on stiff old legs, usually followed by one of the neighbors whose names I didn't yet know. I could tell the old dog was deaf; they'd have to rush to her and redirect her path so she wouldn't go beyond their driveway and out into the road. I admired how they doted on her, let her decide (mostly) where their short walks took them. I realized I was getting a glimpse into my near future, with Maia.

During a brief conversation I had with them last October, after introducing ourselves, they shared that their old dog Nell had passed. They invited me to walk my dogs on their property any time I wanted. 

This trip, with Maia's left knee so gimpy and her thirteen years catching up with all of her joints, I realized I wanted to take them up on their kind offer. The road I normally walked the girls on was a long hill, covered in gravel. And taking Maia up into the forest for a walk was problematic - it's difficult getting her in and out of the car, stressful for us both. The neighbor's grass field would feel better to her toes, and because they have fenced their entire lot with cattle fencing, Maia could follow her nose and meander off leash safely. 

The day after we arrive, I stop by and ask Dave if the offer he and Ruth so kindly made months ago still stands. He says absolutely, and they'd love to meet the girls. 

Maia enjoys an evening walk in the neighbor's field.

That very evening, I walk the girls down my driveway, up their driveway, and into their field. I let Maia off leash. I keep Meadow on leash, having seen a deer cross my own lot earlier that day. Maia can't run anymore, but Meadow can. I'm not taking chances.

Meadow in the neighbor's field (and off leash just for the photo).
Dave and Ruth see us and come out to be introduced to the girls. They then encourage me to meander around their lot. Dave tells me he mowed a path through the field grass in the far side of their five acres just for Nell, so she'd have a level, comfortable place to walk. He still mows it.The girls and I head that way. Dave and Ruth settle into lawn chairs and tell the girls there will be treats and fresh water waiting for them when we return.

Wow. How did I get so lucky? Neighbors who love and pamper dogs as much as I do!

Look! Geese!
At the far side of the field, we encounter...Canadian geese. Except, they're not moving. The girls give them a quick sniff and move on. Later, Dave tells me a neighbor he did some work for wanted him to take them to the landfill, so instead, he planted them near the creek on his lot. Lawn ornaments.

Wild water!
Meadow makes good use of the small creek that runs through a ditch across the property, cooling her toes. Malamutes love to wade. Eventually, Maia tests the water as well and finds it refreshing.

We make our way back to where Dave and Ruth are waiting with treats.

After warning Dave that Maia might take his finger tips along with the treat, he smiles and asks them to sit for their treat.

Dog attention!
Clearly, Dave and Ruth are old hands at this dog stuff. In fact, Ruth used to work at the vet clinic where I took all of my dogs when living here full time.

Doesn't hurt that Dave is...male. The girls adore men. 

Dave, trusting the girls, retains all his fingers after delivering treats.

Maia wastes no time seeking another treat. Dave doesn't disappoint.


Dave and Ruth want photos of the girls to send to their relatives. First, I take a few with my camera. It's a challenge, getting two people and two dogs to all look at the camera, and/or smile, at the same time.

Meadow, Dave, Maia & Ruth - happy neighbors.

I then take similar photos with their camera. barks! Each time I snap a photo, rather than a digital ping sound, it barks. Laughing, I ask about it. Dave admits he got tired of the usual sound, and when trying to eliminate it, discovered that the camera comes with a barking sound option. Of course he chose it.

I need to see if my camera will do that.

Most evenings the girls and I make our way to Dave and Ruth's for a walk, some treats and water, and conversation. I'm discovering we have many mutual interests, our shared love of all things dog being the best. They loaned me the book A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, because they loved it so much. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, too. As soon as I'm done, they'll come up to my place for a glass of wine to talk about it. Like our own little dog-loving book club. 

I've had a few "neighbors from hell" over the years in Seattle. That's why this unexpected gift of Dave and Ruth as Idaho neighbors is precious to me. Certainly Meadow and Maia are enjoying our stay more than usual, with these fun walks (and treats! and water!) and lots of love from Dave and Ruth. I know that I am, too. 

The gift of Dave and Ruth helps offset the sadness of learning that Kay, wife of Leonard - my favorite Idaho neighbors of all, the ones who have lived here it seems forever - passed from leukemia the very day I arrived. I knew she was sick; I'd called her several times while she was getting chemotherapy in Boise in May. Treatment didn't work, though; she was sent home in early June. I talked to her on her 68th birthday, just five days before she passed. Told by the Boise docs that she had three weeks to three months to live, I figured - ornery as she is (in a good way) - she'll live three years. I was wrong. I didn't get here in time to say goodbye in person. I will miss her so much. She and Leonard have been my teachers in all things Idaho. They celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary in May. Seeing how Leonard and I became fast friends, Kay openly referred to me as "Leonard's girlfriend." I ache for Leonard and the tremendous loss this is for him, for how he misses her. They were a well matched pair, and loved each other deeply. There's now a huge hole in the social fabric of this neighborhood. 

Having befriended Dave and Ruth helps heal the wound a little bit. Time will do the rest. That, and learning from another neighbor about Kay's wish to have her ashes spread over a place called - I'm not kidding - Fart Rock. That was Kay and her in-your-face sense of humor through and through. I will miss her - her laugh, her sense of humor, her kindness, and all the email jokes she sent me.

Leonard forwarded some email jokes to me today. I'm happy to see he's carrying on Kay's tradition in that way. Even though - at 72 - using a computer scares the crap out of him.