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Butterfly Takes A Hike

Butterfly has learned the joy of chasing squirrels. She used to be indifferent, or even oblivious to the running rodents. She didn’t understand what all of Cricket’s running and barking was all about, though she was eager to follow behind her sister wherever she might go. For a while now, I’ve been letting Butterfly run off leash in the backyard (or run with her leash dragging behind her), because she has to run and dance in order to poop, yes, but mostly because she makes a horrible choking noise when she pulls against the leash. Butterfly’s running has led her to discover the squirrels. She runs ahead of me and follows a squirrel to a tree, and Cricket drags me to catch up, and the girls circle the tree as if they’re doing a squirrel dance, thumping their chests and jumping for the sky.

Butterfly, ready to run.

“Where’d that squirrel go?”

"Squirrel!"

“Squirrel!”

            At some point, when Grandma had the girls to herself one afternoon, she decided to walk them further up the hill than usual. They climbed through deep leaf piles, on steep inclines, with Cricket up ahead and Butterfly running behind, while Grandma leaned on tree trunks, and held onto branches for support. Grandma assumed this would be a one time thing, but Butterfly had discovered Nirvana.

            The next time I took the dogs out by myself, I let Butterfly run up ahead as usual, assuming she would stop at the halfway point. When I called her to come back, she looked over her shoulder at me and Cricket, and continued to climb higher.

I had a vision of Butterfly in goggles and an aviator jacket but had to shake it off and concentrate.

            I couldn’t follow her up the hill, or, rather, I was afraid to try. I clapped my hands and called her name, nothing. Cricket stood next to me, in shock at what her sister was getting to do without her. Butterfly sniffed tree trunks and circled large rocks and stopped to poop before climbing even higher. I felt awful. I always pick up the poop. I need the feeling of accomplishment I get when I collect bags full of poop on a walk.

I had to climb up after her, still holding onto Cricket’s leash. Most of the solid ground under our feet was actually slanted and covered with leaves. Cricket was impatient while I held onto trees and branches whenever I could. I chose unwisely a few times and found myself holding a skinny tree in my hands with no actual part of the tree touching the ground. When we reached a plateau, I found Butterfly’s poop and scooped it up. That was a relief, at least. And then Butterfly came running over to us as if she’d been waiting up there to show us her wonderful new discovery. Cricket did some butt sniffing to get the full story, and then we all trekked back down the hill.

            And of course, I did not learn my lesson. For the next few trips, Butterfly seemed satisfied with running up the hill by herself and coming back down pretty quickly. Cricket busied herself with sniffing her usual territory, which is actually rich with interesting smells, and she didn’t complain much about Butterfly’s excursions. And then it snowed.

The whole family went out together to explore the new white world, Cricket, and Butterfly, and Grandma, and me. Everything was covered with snow, including Butterfly’s path up the hill. I watched her run up by herself and idly noticed that I couldn’t figure out which icy patches were covering solid ground and which ones sat on loose piles of leaves that I would fall through. Butterfly explored on her own for longer than usual, but when Grandma asked if she should go up and get her, I looked at all of the ice and shook my head. We would just wait.

The snowy hill

The snowy hill

"Hi, Mommy!"

“Hi, Mommy!”

"Oh yes, I am very concerned about my sister."

“Oh yes, I am very concerned about my sister.”

When Butterfly was finally ready to come back down, she chose a different route than she was used to, excited at her own daring. But the new path dead-ended at a pile of leaves and sticks and cut up trees left by the maintenance men. She looked at me across the divide with confusion. I told her to go back up the hill and come down the normal way, and she seemed to understand, but as she turned to find her way back up the hill, her leash caught on a sharp piece of wood, and she was stuck.

I am not an athlete, but when my baby is in danger, I do what I have to do. I left Cricket with Grandma and examined the mess in front of me. The tree slices were at odd angles and covered with icy snow, but I took each step slowly, only losing my footing ten or fifteen times. When I reached Butterfly and unhooked her leash, I was thinking a bit more clearly and was able to find a safer route back across for both of us.

I have learned to hold onto that leash, whether she likes it or not. And she protests, a lot, either by coughing and pulling, or by refusing to poop. I know myself. I can’t deny her forever. So I gave myself an insurance policy and lugged a few large branches across the path to discourage her from running all the way up the hill. She went over to the branches and sniffed, and so far, she has been deterred. Thank God Cricket is a typical big sister and has not offered Butterfly her help in figuring out a new way up the hill. If Cricket can’t go up there, then, really, why should anyone else be allowed to go?

Sisters

Sisters

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

58 responses »

  1. Butterfly would have figured everything out of herself if she had just a little more time.

    Reply
  2. Those silly pups can scare us sometimes.

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  3. Your girls are so cute. I smile and laugh out loud to myself every time I read your posts. The “Hi, Mommy” picture is my favorite! Butterfly looks so happy. 🙂

    Reply
  4. That’s a wicked looking hill. I’m not sure what I would have done under the circumstances. You’re a great Mom!

    Reply
  5. Loved your post. It reminded me of our friend’s springer that got really carried away chasing a tree bunny. She went up the tree after it then couldn’t get down, and our friend had to get a ladder. Ours isn’t quite so daft, and just puts her paws on the tree it’s gone up! Point!! (somebody else loves Up!)

    Reply
    • A tree bunny? I think we need some tree bunnies around here! Cricket would love to be able to climb a tree, but she just can’t do it. She jumps and jumps, but the sky refuses to come any closer.

      Reply
  6. Exciting adventures for Butterfly although a bit scary. Well I’m glad all turned out well for you all..What a day and a good mum you are .
    Hugs xx

    Reply
  7. What a great and entertaining story…as usual. Charley finally after 8 years of chasing, caught her first squirrel. I think it is her last as well: she immediately let go and the squirrel was unharmed. But Charley complained about all that hair in her mouth;0) And she also has to walk before she can do her business. myohmy, with that cold spell, I was dressed in 7 layers and was crumbling all the way and back again! with a big hug from Ohio!

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  8. Ah, the art of squirrel chasing. Sometimes its nascent stage is lengthy; but once the horse is out of the barn, so to speak, you may expect great things (not so great for rodents though).

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  9. You’re lucky she comes back! My Izzy doesn’t know the meaning of “come.” He’ll take off, get to smelling traces of other animals, and forget there was ever a human in his life. I’ve realized that unless there’s a fence around the area, he doesn’t go off leash. I hate to do it to him, but unless he comes back, he’s not going to ever get to explore. Thankfully, you got Cricket back . . .

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  10. Your story about the walk reminded my of the two times Brutis got away at the metro park across the street. Once when his lead broke and the second time I just dropped it by accident. Both times I (and he) were saved by joggers which I yelled ahead to asking them to step on his leash. Since then I have purchased a harness. It keeps him from choking when he pulls hard as he did when leashed by his neck collar. Also I figure if he gets away again, he’ll have his collar with his id. The trail goes on for miles and he is just too quick for me to catch. Good post!

    Reply
    • Cricket is a harness Houdini. She can get out of the car harness in thirty seconds, the regular harness (tailored specifically for her) takes a few minutes longer. All of that has probably prejudiced me against the harness for Butterfly, who would never think of trying to escape from the thing.

      Reply
  11. Hey Rachel, Thanks for liking my post, “A Story: To Tell the Truth.” I really enjoy reading about you, and your girls’ escapades.

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  12. What an adventure for you, Grandma and the girls. I use a harness for my two but they never have adventures like yours. Our walks are so boring by comparison.

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  13. That’s quite a little adventure! It’s amazing what we humans can overcome when we see our little ones are in trouble. Maybe if you try using a harness on Butterfly instead of a neck collar, she won’t cough when she pulls on the leash? That would give her one less method of complaint! 😉

    Reply
  14. Superb narrative pleasantly gripping your readership !!! The ” Squirrel Dance ” would make a perfect title; I so much liked the way you put it. They are both so adorable and cute ! All their portraits are gorgeous,but the bottom one stole the scene … Can’t take my eyes off ! They feel totally warm and toasty in their little beds after the adventures here and there …

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  15. I enjoy reading your little adventures with the girls, and it’s easy to see that they love having those adventures. 🙂

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  16. Oh, the joys of new experiences! Such a relief when they have been ‘persuaded’ that they are old hat 😉

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  17. Very nice photos and a fun adventure!

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  18. That little Butterfly is quite the adventurer. Glad you all made it up and down the hill safely. Hugs and nose kisses

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  19. The things we do for our doggies! You’re such a wonderful doggie mom. Celeste 🙂

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  20. A scary adventure. Glad it turned out okay. 🙂

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  21. Just love the photo of the girls in their beds. How wonderful it must be to take your dogs for a snow play. I live where no snow falls, beach side. Yet my dog Sheldon is scared of the waves (actualy any water unless its the smelly creek or his water bowl) 🙂

    Reply
    • Cricket treats snow just like sand, she digs through it looking for treasure. She gets very excited when she discovers a stick buried in the snow. It becomes a whole new stick from the one she discarded the day before.

      Reply
  22. “I need the feeling of accomplishment I get when I collect bags full of poop on a walk.”

    It’s somewhat scary that this phrase resonates with me.

    Reply
  23. Great title. Butterfly is a cutie, Rachel. Best, Shanna

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  24. Hilarious! And that last foto is double-hilarious 😀

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  25. Awesome! Have you tried saying “Squirrel” to Butterfly? If Tessie hears that word, she gets excited and runs to the window barking. She’s even chased at least a couple of them back up the tree.

    Reply
    • Butterfly doesn’t know the word “squirrel” yet, but she sure knows what they look like as they race away from her. I don’t think she’s ever going to make her way up a tree by herself. I may have to bring out a set of steps, just for that purpose.

      Reply

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