My Favorite Walks By Higgins Wilbanks

For most of my life, the routine was the same.  The first thing every morning, my human would take the red leather leash off the hook, attach it to my collar and off we would go.  We walked in my neighborhood, at the beach, in the mountains and any other place we might go.  I loved going for walks.  It was the highlight of my day.

Walking The Neighborhood

Mahm opens the screen door and we head out across the back yard.  Sometimes I can smell “the girls” walking down the fairway of the golf course before we even see them.  As soon as I take care of my business, we head west on Golf Lane.  We walk to the corner then turn left on Lone Palm Drive.  I usually make several stops to smell the smells along the way.  Koya’s mahm calls it “checking our pee-mail.”  Mondays are always a good day to walk because of all the additional smells and greetings from the nice sanitation workers.

It’s always fun to run into my friends when we’re on a walk.  Sometimes I see Sassy and Jaxy from down the street.  They’re pretty nice even if they are a little frou frou.  I always enjoy visiting with Koya while our humans stop to talk.  That new youngster, Shelby, is always excited to see us.  She can be a little rambunctious but, after all, she is still a puppy. I miss seeing some of my old friends like Roxie, Molly, Max, Kaylee and Neula.

We always walk to Mom-Mom and Dad-Dad’s house on the cul-de-sac.  If they are at home, we go in and visit for a while.  I especially enjoy laying in front of the fireplace on cold, winter mornings.  Mom-Mom gives me more treats than Mahm.  Unfortunately, I gained so much weight, she had to start giving me green beans.  That’s ok, though — as I like to say, “food is food.”  After a short rest, we walk back to our house where I nap the rest of the day.

When I was a young pup, we went for longer walks — sometimes on the golf course.  I loved it when Mahm would take my leash off and let me run like the wind.  Of course, she would check for alligators first. Mom-Mom used to walk with us when she was a young pup too.

Walking The Beach

We take the elevator down to the first floor.  (I used to go down the stairs before it got hard on my back.)  I poke around the tiny yard while Mahm puts on her shoes.  We go through the gate and cross the street to get to the sidewalk.  I take care of my business and then we head south.

We walk a couple of blocks before we cross the street.  There is an old, white house on the corner.  No one lives there now.  It is where they have community plays. Mahm has to drag me away from the playhouse because I could spend hours smelling all the smells. It’s also where the meanest cat used to live.  I knew he lived there, because, even if I couldn’t see him, I could smell him.  One time, I was minding my own business, sniffing the bushes when he jumped out at me, hissing and flailing his paws.  He scared me half to death!    

A few years ago, our walk would vary from this point.  I had three or four different routes I would take — maybe down Pine Street or Magnolia then cut over to North Shore then back up Coconut to the house.  All of that changed two years ago when I made the most marvelous discovery.

One day, we passed the playhouse and walked to the cafe on Magnolia.  (It always smelled so good — like bacon.)  We crossed the street and walked on the road that ran parallel to the beach.  We turned onto the sidewalk in front of the beach houses, standing like sentinels  facing out to sea — my favorite place to walk.  It was pleasant because it ran between the row of houses and the beach and there were no cars!  We walked a couple of blocks and stopped in front of a brand-new home.  It was a big gray house with an iron gate.  Outside the gate, the people set out a bowl of fresh water and a big container of treats for us dogs.  Jackpot!

Ever since we discovered the house with the treats, it’s the only way I want to walk.  Sometimes, we walk all the way to the big house and there are no treats, which is most disappointing.  When the people are home and the treats are out, Mahm lets me have one.  I have been known to circle the block to pass by the gray house in the other direction hoping to snag another one but she doesn’t fall for that trick. 

Another great thing about walking on the island is the group of nice men who drive the golf carts around, doing work for the city.  They carry treats for us dogs.  It confuses me that all of the golf carts don’t carry treats.  There should be a law about that.

I’m not allowed to walk on the beach.  That’s ok, though.  One time I went to a doggie beach and drank too much salt water.  I got really sick and had to spend the night in the emergency veterinarian clinic.  I did not like that.

I did get to feel the sand on my paws a few times.  My humans liked to walk to the bay on Easter Sunday morning to watch the sun rise.  They let me sit beside them on the sand as we watched the sky begin to glow and brighten.  It was kind of like a reverse sunset.

Walking the Mountains

I’m kind of like my humans — I like the beach and the mountains.  Please don’t make me choose.  When we are in the mountains, my favorite place to walk is the city park.

We have to ride in the jeep to get to the park.  We usually walk around the big circle first.  Sometimes, children are playing soccer in the field.  I want to play with the balls too.  There is an old barn and Mahm always makes me stop to take a picture.  (She takes too many pictures.)

We pass the dog corral and the playground and get to my favorite spot — the stream.  I love to get in the cold water even though it feels icy.  Mahm doesn’t get her feet wet, but the other human, Jim, walks to the middle of the stream with me.  Sometimes he throws rocks to splash me.  One time there were two other corgis at the park and we had a little corgi party in the middle of the stream.

Sometimes, we go for a ride in the mountains and have a picnic.  We explore the trails that are easy for me with my short legs.  One time, when we went for a walk on a trail after a picnic,  a big snake blocked our path.  Yikes!  That was scary!

It’s alway nice to walk in the mountains, especially when it’s cool.  There is nothing like a walk in the brisk mountain air with a colorful backdrop of fall leaves.  They make the best crunching sound as we’re walking.  I like crunching sounds — kind of makes me think of treats.

The Last Walk

One day, when I wasn’t feeling well at all, my humans took me to the vet.  It was a bit strange because Mahm usually took me herself.  I didn’t mind going to the vet.  The people were pretty nice and they gave me Cheez Whiz.  I love Cheez Whiz.  The lady at the front desk took us to a quiet room with soft lights.  I sniffed around, wondering when they were going to break out the Cheez Whiz.  My humans kept staring at me and their eyes were wet.  Hmmmm.  What’s up with that?

One of the nice humans at the vet came and gave me a little shot.  Ouch!  I looked around the room again and yawned.  I thought, maybe I’ll just lay down and take a little nap.  I glanced up at my humans and they patted my head.  Mahm held my paw.  This time, I let her.

When I awoke from my nap, I felt so different, so refreshed.  I yawned and stretched.  That’s weird — my joints don’t ache.  I licked my chops but I didn’t feel that annoying growth in my mouth any more.  It was gone!  I jumped up — what’s going on?  I thought I was in a room when I fell asleep, not at this beautiful, green meadow.  I glanced behind me and watched a rainbow colored bridge fade away.

The sound of barking in the distance caught my attention.  It was a familiar little yipping.  Wait, is it?  Could it be?  A little Yorkie came running toward me and threw all his weight on me in a body slam.  Max!  My old buddy Max!  I hadn’t seen him in years.  We tumbled over each other, playfully growling, our tails wagging.  Then a couple of Pugs came running over — my first girlfriend, Roxie and her sister Molly.  My cousins Sophie, Shadow and Mudje ran up to greet me followed by “the girls” who used to live a few houses down from me.  They all crowded around me, licking, barking and wagging their tails.  “Come on,” they said.  “We’ll show you around.”

I started off after them but paused for a few seconds and looked back towards the vanished bridge.  I sensed something I could not see — a deep, deep love.  Someone beyond the haze loved me and I knew it.  I wan’t sad but felt great joy.  I blinked my eyes against the fading memory, turned and ran off to be with my friends.  I was in my forever home.

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