A shaft of light penetrated the bedroom gloom. It was 6.15 am and Georgine was already up and about. She was anxious to get on with our morning routine and thought that manipulating the Venetian blinds was the best device for waking Ian up. Alarm clocks did not seem to work effectively since his hearing began its slow decline a few years back, so Georgine had to resort to strategy to get things moving.
Ian, still half asleep was working his eyelids open to check out the time. Yes, it was 6.15! Exiting the bed had become a kind of routine in itself. The covers were thrown back and Ian leaped out of bed, tottering toward the bathroom to apply cold water to his eyes. This would start the process of waking up for him. The next step was to find the walking attire and get it all on right way around. Finally he made the trek out to the garage to put on those worn out shoes he still liked to wear. Georgine thought it was about time Ian discarded those old faithfuls, but for some reason Ian still liked to wear them.
Getting out of “fortress” home address was always an interesting procedure. The house entry and exit points were all double and triple locked, and to add a sense of security the place was alarmed. Sometimes Ian would forget the alarm system had been activated and re-enter through the lock maze to the shrill trumpeting of the Chubb security system. Now, that was something he did not need to have his hearing aids on to hear.
Eventually, they were on their way for the morning walk on the dog squad circuit. It took about 5 minutes for Ian to switch from remote control to manual control in the mornings. He liked to be wide-awake for the exercise session, as Georgine and he had developed a grading system to determine the quality of the “good mornings” they received during the circuit. The highest quality greeting was a broad smile and a loud “good morning.” On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 of course being the highest, a short conversation with a fellow traveller would be right up there at the top. Those who passed by without any form of recognition would receive a zero. Through this means it was possible to gauge the mood of each regular dog squad member, and know how to approach them on the walkway.
Members of the dog squad were an interesting lot. A couple steered a massive brute around the circuit, while the dog sized up each person passing by. Ian swore that the dog’s guttural noises resembled the word “lunch.” They gave that little company a wide berth. Not too far into the morning walk would be a little group, members of the dog squad, standing around watching as their respective pets huddled in conference. They’ve not been able to ascertain whether this was a scandal swapping event, or a full-blown continuing education convention for dogs. Obviously not everyone could join in as new entrants had to endure the sniff test before being allowed into the circle.
There was a great deal of talent to be found within the dog squad fraternity. One dog specialized in placing brown “curlies” on top of the markers in a proposed shopping complex car park. He’d learned the technique watching his mistress decorate cakes no doubt, and was out to practice this new talent at every opportunity. Several dogs were undergoing obedience training in the same area as they passed by. One of their favourites was Smiley. This was not her proper name of course, but the dog had one of those happy, broad grins that make you want to burst into laughter as you pass by. Another dog liked to head for the drain and stand motionless as the drain water rushed through its legs. This was a frustrating experience for the owner, especially after the dog had just had its weekly grooming session.
You could never tell where and when the milkman would show up on our walk circuit. When you least expected it, there would be a loud “Moo” from a loud speaker and a delivery van would swing around the corner for a quick delivery of milk and assorted breakfast goodies. We could count on the milkman for a grade 8 greeting each time we saw him.
Another regular was the elderly man with an Asian woman pushing a pram. A member of the dog squad said this couple lived nearby, but that they were not able to determine if it was wife or daughter in law in spite of careful observations of the house where they lived. This appeared to support the claim that Australia would one day be the first Eurasian country in the world as there was occasional sighting on the circuit of the middle aged Caucasian man with an Asian girl in tow. They were particularly interested in this couple, as the young lady had “play here” prominently displayed on the seat of her jeans.
Occasionally walks would take them through land development areas of the circuit. There they would see kangaroos and wallabies looking confused as they scanned wistfully across areas they’d once grazed, and on which houses now sprouted like mushrooms after rain. The ‘roos would sit motionless and staring as Ian and Georgine walked on by them.
Before they knew it, the circuit of one hour had been completed and they found themselves on the homeward stretch. Fighting their way through the maze of locks they’d re-enter home to digest memories of the walk, and look forward to the next circuit of the dog squad track and its novel experiences.
“© copyright Ian Grice 2011, all rights reserved”