Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Scamp, all zonked out after a round of ball chasing

Like Dorothy Martin’s cats – I’m currently reading her take on life in the cozy mystery Trouble in Town Hall – my canine companion Scamp makes sure I lead a balanced life. I thought about that this morning as we took our 6 a.m. walk around my apartment complex.

Scamp is an almost three-year-old Siberian Husky/Shih Tzu mix who is finally learning my only speed these days is slow. I make up for it by extra walks and lots of soft-ball throwing down my hall, lasting until he gives out and doesn’t retrieve the ball.

Scamp’s the most social dog I’ve ever owned, and a handsome fellow who charms almost everyone he meets here in my large apartment complex. Most of them stop to say hello and give him an ear scratch, which makes his day. Some even carry treats especially for him.

Because of Scamp, I’ve come to know a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

 I also have to get up and get dressed to walk him every day, whether I feel like it or not. By the time we get back from our walk, I’m ready to face the day.

If I didn’t have Scamp, I would probably sleep in and stay in my pajamas all day. Sounds lovely, but I think taking a walk, enjoying the birds and flowers, and smiling at my neighbors is much healthier for this old broad.

Later, when Scamp curls up in my large recliner beside me while I read, the human need for touch is fulfilled. They say petting a dog or cat reduces blood pressure, and since I’ve had to take high-blood pressure pills for 40 years now, this has to be a good thing.

My vocal cords also get daily exercise because I talk to Scamp. And he never disagrees. He simply tilts his head and gives me a questioning look, as if to say: Oh. I understand.

And sometimes I read out loud to him – like Qwillian does with Koko in Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who books.

Come to think of it, a lot of fictional characters have pets that make their lives better: like Tank, in Tinker Lindsay and Gay Hendricks’ Tenzing Norbu’s murder mystery series; or Nick and Nora Charles’ dog Asta in Dashiell Hammet’s Thin Man novel; or Little Orphan Annie’s dog Sandy.

I guess you could day Scamp and I are in good company.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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An Alexander Kind of Day

It may look like a dark day, but the sun is out there somewhere. — Photo by Pat Bean

I cried as a kid because other kids made fun of me, because I didn’t have a boyfriend, because I foolishly married the first one, because my kids were sick or had been hurt, because after the divorce I couldn’t find my true soul mate, at Lassie movies, because my teenagers had minds of their own, because I made a mistake at work and got yelled at.

I really could go on and on.

But then my kids grew up, I had great friends, and I realized I was my own soul mate and a dog was much easier to live with than a man, even if I liked or even loved him.

I came to appreciate not having to listen to music or TV programs I didn’t like, of being able to get up on a weekend morning and go exploring only where I wanted to go, to eat cold fried chicken or listen to audible in bed at 2 a.m. without earplugs, to not have to cook if I weren’t hungry, to not having to share a bathroom, and simply to enjoy having some solitude.

Suddenly there were no more tears, well except at sad movies — but those tears dry out before the movie’s credits end.

While I don’t miss the reasons for my other tears, I realized this week that I do miss the feeling of release that flows through the body after a crying jag ends.

That’s because I experienced one. Like Alexander, I had A Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And I cried about it.

But, as Annie predicted, the sun came up the next day.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Scamp: What do you mean that I snore?

          There is something warm and comforting about having a warm body lying next to you that makes sleep come easy and feel safer. But it’s been some time since I’ve had a regular human bed companion – which is probably why my dogs are allowed on the bed.

          I’ve been a single, happy, free spirit now for over 30 years, so given that dogs’ lives are shorter than humans, I’ve slept with four dogs. The first after my divorce was Peaches. She was a golden Cocker Spaniel and five years old when I got her. We bonded on sight. She was my protector and enthusiastic hiking companion – and would have given her life for me.

She would always go to sleep at the foot of my bed, but would creep slowly up toward its head. I would awake with her nose just inches from my face, her eyes telling me she needed to go outside. .

 Maggie, a black Cocker Spaniel with a mischievous bent, came to me after a year of being abused. At first. she was afraid of almost everything. It was a full year before she felt safe. But then, she decided she was queen of the castle and it was my duty to give my live for hers.

 I loved her very much, and she and I spent the last eight years of her life traveling the country together in a small RV.*

She, however, was the least satisfactory of my bed companions. She would always curl up next to me when I went to bed, but if I were restless during the night, and I usually was, she would huff that she was going to go sleep on the couch. And so she would.  

Pepper came next, a black Scottie-mix, whom I got when she was only four-months old. I hadn’t wanted a puppy because of all the work I knew puppies required. I thought about that when I saw her barking and running around in an animal shelter yard. Nope, not for me.

She had other ideas.

I was sitting on a bench when she saw me. She ran over, jumped up on my lap, locked my blue eyes with her shining chocolate ones, and emphatically communicated that she was going home with me. And so she did, but she also zapped my fears about puppies right out the window.

Pepper already knew her potty was outdoors, and understood the meaning of the word “No!”  Unlike Maggie, she loved pleasing me and was the perfect sleeping companion. She would curl up next to me, forming her body to my shape, reforming it again and again, without complaint, each time I changed positions.

Her only fault was that she fooled me into thinking I could adopt an eight-month-old, 18-pound Schnauzer-mix – or so the shelter personnel, who also erroneously listed him as female, said.

I don’t know if he had a gender change or what, but he was clearly an unneutered male, and as rambunctious as a teenage boy when I brought him home.

I named him Scamp, which fits him perfectly. I had him neutered and house trained – never once did he hit a puppy pad that I had carpeted my floor with – within a hard month. But he’s still a big adventurous wild one. His saving grace is that he is friendly and loveable.

When he kept growing, my daughter had his DNA tested and it turned out that he is 50 percent Siberian Husky and 37 percent Shih Tzu with not a single gene of Schnauzer.  He is now almost three years old, and weighs 40 pounds. He’s also a cuddler and thinks he is a lap dog.

Scamp sleeps beside me on top of the covers at night, a warm presence that comforts my body. The first glimmer of dawn — be it 5 a.m. in the summer or 7 a.m. in the winter here in Tucson — is his alarm clock.

If I’m not stirring when the light creeps into the room, he begins a low moaning. Then begins a routine of kisses and hugs and scratches before he finally convinces me to get out of bed and take him for his morning walk.

Thankfully I’m a morning person. And thankfully I don’t have to sleep alone.

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Cat No. 3: The Covid Cat

          I moderate a writer’s chat group called Writer2Writer for Story Circle Network, an international writing support group for women. Each Wednesday, I provide a writer’s prompt.

          This week, wanting to inject a little silliness into the life of writers, who like all of us are living on Covid time, I asked them to have a conversation with an animal who could respond with words instead of just a nodding of the head.

          Below is what my oldest daughter, Deborah, who is a member of W2W, wrote. I laughed all the way through. So, to give a bit of time to dog lovers to go along with my promised 30 artful cats, I decided to share it. I hope reading it brings a smile to your face.

Nightcap with Whiskey and Kahlua

By Deborah Bean

Welcome to the world of a new senior citizen (me) and my two lovable dogs. Whiskey weighs in at 25 pounds and is a Schnauzer/Cocker Spaniel mix — a Schnocker that you have to imagine with a Scottish accent. Ten-pound Kahlua is an energetic, sometimes frenzied Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix – a JackChi. Ironically, re names, I’m a teetotaler.  

Me: (Nighttime, Take 395) Okay, Whiskey, bedtime.

Kahlua: (Scampers downstairs) I’m going, I’m going, I’m going.

Me: Whiskey, come on.

Whiskey: (Opening one eye) Harrrrumph. (Then he closes that eye)

Me: Whiskey, it’s time for bed.

Whiskey: Your bed be much morrrre comfortable. Just leave me be.

Me: Whiskey! Time for bed!

Kahlua: (Scampering back upstairs and starting to bark) Hey it’s bedtime. Time to go pee and then I get a treat! I like treats. Treats are good.

Whiskey: I be in a bed, ye frrrenzied Kahlueless. And it be comforrrtable. And Mistress, if ye please, get idget down tharrre to be quiet.

Me: Whiskey, it’s bedtime. Coooome ooon. (Grabbing his hind legs and pulling slowly, I work his body off the edge of the bed)

Whiskey: (Still not getting up) Hey! What be you doing? And keep yerrr bloody hands offin me prrrivates! (I gently slide him off the bed so his hind feet touch down before I pull him all the way off) And how, the now, did I get down herrre. Ye bloody well tricked me, ye wench.

Kahlua: (Racingdownstairs and back up a second time) C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Time to go outside – then I get a treat! Treats are good. Don’t you want a treat Whiskey? And we’ve got a comfortable crate with pillows and blankies.

Me: Alright. Downstairs now.

Whiskey: I be strrrrretching. And yawning. And be ye sure ye don’t want me back in that tharrrre comfortable bed. I’d be keeping you warm all night.

Kahlua: (Racing up and down the stairs a third time) Time to go pee. I’m a good puppy. I know what to do.  Go outside, go pee, get my treat, and then off to bed in our crate.

Me: Whiskey, let’s go. It’s bedtime. Come on.

 Whiskey: (Grumbling all the way down to the kitchen door) And it’s a crrruel human ye be. Forcin’ me out of me comforrrtable spot. And now you sends me out into the darrrk to be a’peein.

Kahlua: (After making several circuits of the yard before stopping to go potty) I’m done. See, I went potty. I’m a good puppy. You love me because I know what to do. I’m loved, I’m loved. (Then races up the stairs to see the husband, barking all the way. He sends her back down as Whiskey saunters in from the yard. Kahlua is panting)

Me: Okay, into the crate, both of you.

Whiskey: (Giving me the evil eye, again) And, I be askin’, what will ye be givin’ me? Kahlueless over there may be willin’ but she be titched in the head.

Me: Of course. Here’s your treat. Now into the crate.

Kahlua: I got a treat. Treats are good. Now I’m in the crate. I’m a good puppy!

Whiskey: I’ll not be likin’ this a bit, but since thare be a treat, so shall it be.

Me: (Sighs) Why do I put up with this? It’s a good thing you’re such a snuggle bunny.

Whiskey: Hey! Who ye be besmirchin’ wit’ your bunny talk? It’s a fierce fighter I be — at least five minutes of the day. Hmph!

Me: Night puppies. Love you. See you in the morning.

Whiskey: Hmph! Well, at least there be comforrrtable blankets. Scootch over ye idget. Give me space.

Kahlua: (Snuggles between Whiskey’s legs) I did good! I said goodnight, peed, and went to bed with a treat. I’m a good puppy!

Whiskey: Quiet little beastie. I be tryin’ to sleep here.

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Updating My Profile

Scanp, right, and his best pal Dusty. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do.” – Ted Nelson

It’s All About the Buttons

          I have been a computer user since 1978, forced, as a reporter, to write my newspaper stories on one. Less than 10 years later, I bought my first home computer, one that operated on floppy disks because it didn’t even have a hard drive.

          My first word processing system involved a black screen with green text. I became determined not to be left stalled on the “information highway,” and forced myself to learn all about DOS, an acronym for Disk Operating System. I was, so to speak, hep, an old-fashioned term for groovy, with-it, trendy, hip, and up-to-date.

          But things changed overnight – and I never caught up. I bought myself updated computers over the years, but depended on the tech guys at my work to simply tell me what buttons to push to make the dang machines do what I wanted them to do.

Then along came smart phones. By this time, I was a retired old broad without tech experts at my beck and call. While I was on the road traveling the country in my RV, one of my sons bought me my first smart phone because it tracked my location – which he wanted to know at all times. He spent good money on that phone but all the time my brain was thinking: Dang caring, loving son!

I hated that phone, and never learned to use it for anything but calling and texting. And I went back to my old flip phone when I ended my life on the road in 2013, using the excuse that the cost of service was cheaper – which was actually true.

Most of the stuff others did on their phones, I did on my computer, whose bigger screen works better for older eyes, and whose eccentricities I was able to eventually figure out – despite the convoluted, operating explanations provided for users by people who clearly didn’t know how to go from A to B without inserting Gs and Zs between the two.

But the smart phones with their apps, I finally began realizing at this late date, were being used for things my stay-at-home lap top couldn’t do, like gain entrance to movies, serve as maps, and act as coupons at grocery stores, just to name three simple ones.

Without my tech guys, I’m not sure I will ever learn how to do all of them. But I’m proud to say that last night, I did finally learn how to use my new phone — finally a smart one — to take a picture of my canine companion Scamp and then send it to my granddaughter, who was sitting across from me, and who had shown me which buttons to push to do so.

Time to update my profile, I think.  

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Joy is taking pleasure in little things, especially in nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

Political foolery, political bullying, political lying, political egotism, political shenanigans and political partisanship favored over what’s in the best interest of this country make me want to scream. And scream, and scream! I feel this way partly because I feel helpless to change things for the better.

Joy is my canine companion Scamp. — Photo by Pat Bean

What this country needs is a political party that’s not so far right, and not so far left, and is devoted to truth and facts. I would call it the Common Sense Party. All in favor, please stand up and say AYE!

I’m assuming the idea passed, so now all someone has to do is create it.

Meanwhile, since I need to stay sane during these chaotic times, I’ve started a list of things that give me joy. I try to put something on it daily. Here are a few recent joys from my list.

Joy is my third-floor balconies that look out on the Catalina Mountains, proving me a daily show of their changing moods

Joy is the almost daily phone call from one of my sons who tries to keep up with his old-broad mom, and the daily email chat I have with a daughter-in-law who has taken on the responsibility of being my guardian angel.

Joy is a hot bath in a deep tub, hot enough to turn the skin pink and send warmth and ease all the way down to my bones.

Joy is a call from a 10-year-old grandson who is reading the Dr. Doolittle books I so loved as a child, and who is loving them, too.

Joy is me getting to hold my great-granddaughter Cora. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Joy is getting a snail-mail letter from a friend, or from one of my grandchildren.

Joy is playing a competitive game of Frustration with my oldest granddaughter and her wife, and cussing and laughing a lot as we play.

Joy is solving and fixing a computer glitch all by myself — after an unsuccessful hour on the phone with a computer expert.

          Joy is my dog Scamp, who is my companion, bedmate and exercise trainer. Having to walk him up and down three flights of stairs daily has become my foolproof exercise plan.

Joy is listening to the gurgling sound of coffee brewing, and smelling its toasty aroma while it is still dark outside.

Joy is sitting my butt in a chair and writing – or reading.

Bean Pat: Watching birds is one of the things that always give me joy, like watching these West Texas humming bird feeders on one of Cornell University’s live bird cams. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/west-texas-hummingbirds/

Available on Amazon.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining


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Scott’s Oriole — Wikimedia photo

A Colorful Walk

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Walking my canine companion Scamp early every morning is both a chore and a pleasure. Living in a third-floor apartment with no yard means it’s something that must be daily done – and at the first glimpse of dawn when I’m awakened by a dog sticking his cold nose in my face. If that doesn’t work, Scamp drapes his 40-pound body on top of mine and begins to whine.

You can read more about Maggie and her adventures with her mistress in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

I have no choice but to get up, throw on some clothes and get his leash. Every morning I do this, I think of my former dog Maggie. She, as anyone who knew her would tell you, was a spoiled brat, but she liked to sleep in and so I got to wake up at my leisure not hers.

But by the time Scamp and I are going down the stairs, often with the moon still visible in the morning sky, the pleasure of being out and about so early, with rarely another soul in sight, takes hold of me.

After Scamp waters a tree, he begins a slow exploratory stop-and-go trot to the dog park where he likes to do his more serious business. We live at the top of the apartment complex and it’s at the bottom, leaving me with plenty of time to observe the sights around me.

The first thing that caught my attention this morning were eight white-winged doves sitting on a utility line. Mostly all I could see were dark profiles, emphasizing their individual shapes. Six looked exactly alike while one appeared skinnier and one fatter, the latter with a tail a bit longer than the others. Seven of the doves were facing away from me, but the one at the farthest edge faced toward me. I wondered what they were all thinking.

As we turned a corner, my eye was then caught by three large round bushes that were covered in bright purple flowers. The bushes had been trimmed a few days earlier by the apartment’s gardeners, and it seemed to me as if they had simply bloomed overnight. Or had I simply not seen them the day before?

The color purple always stops me for a better look when I see it in nature. Pictured here is a Rose of Sharon blossom.

Finally, Scamp — whom I let lead during his morning walks because once the day warms his walks are quick and short because this old broad doesn’t do well in the heat – headed back to our apartment for his breakfast. My own mind at this point was focused on the cup of cream-laced coffee that awaited me.

But as we began walking up the stairs, I got distracted by some movement in a nearby tree. I stopped to look more closely and was rewarded with a flash of yellow and black before a bird flew directly in front of me. It was a Scott’s oriole. While common in Southeast Arizona, one doesn’t see this oriole species often. As an avid birder I was thrilled at the sight – and immediately forgave Scamp for waking me so early.

Bean Pat: As one who wants to identify all the plants I see on my walks, I love this blog. Perhaps you will, too. https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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This display of metal flowers reminded me of the colors of my tye-dye T-shirts, which I wore during the 1960s — and still wear today. — Photo by Pat Bean

I was walking my canine companion Scamp through my apartment complex parking lot this morning when a bumper sticker caught my eye – and sent my mind reeling back to the 1960s.

Make Love Not War, it read.

I watched those hippy-flowerchild years from the sidelines, changing diapers the first half of the decade, and being a naïve reporter thrown into the midst of the Vietnam War protests the last three years.

Having three young sons, whom I never wanted to have to go to war, I thought the slogan was a good one.

A sign for the 1960s is still pertinent today.

The ‘60s also marked the beginning of the battle to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. As a working woman earning less than my male colleagues, I also thought it was a good idea. Not all women back then did, however, and one asked me: “Do you want your daughter to go to war?”

“Of course not,” I replied. “But then I don’t want my sons to go to war either.”

It’s been over half a century since I first heard those four words,  “Make Love Not War.” Three of my five children joined the military. One son spent 10 years in the Army, one daughter spent 10 years in the Navy, and one son make the Army his career, serving over 35 years for this country.

I’m proud of them – but sad that war is still ongoing on this planet. And probably always will be according a book I recently read: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Still, that Make Love Not War bumper sticker comforted me this morning, letting me know I wasn’t aloe in wanting everyone to just get along. It also set my brain to recalling the words to a song written in 1955 for the International Children’s Choir. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…

At this point, Scamp noticed a mourning dove on the ground and attempted to give chase, forcing me to pull back hard on his leash. The action forced my brain back to my present surroundings, where the sun was just coming up, birds were chittering, a slight breeze was blowing through my hair – and someone had dropped a coronavirus protective mask on the ground by their car.

As Forest Gump’s mom said: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

    Bean Pat: Take a break from coronavirus news and look for moose on Michigan’s Isle Royale. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/travel/moose-michigan-isle-royale.html?campaign.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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While it’s exciting to hike new trails, it’s just as satisfying to see the blossoms of a saguaro grow and blossom with the passing days. — Photo by Pat Bean

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

These days, my pre-dawn walks with my canine companion Scamp, who wakes me and won’t consider letting me go back to sleep, are mostly limited to short treks around my Catalina Foothills apartment complex here in Tucson.

Even so, I enjoy the walks and usually find something new and interesting to see on them, like the toad Scamp

Resident juvenile great horned owls from a couple years past sitting on the top of one of the apartment buildings. — Photo by Pat Bean

scared out of the bushes last week. “You don’t want to mess with that,” I told him as I pulled him away.

For the past couple of months, I’ve also been frequently sighting two juvenile great horned owls, that are the offspring of our resident great horns. As they’ve matured, the sightings have become less frequent. They’re learning that we homo sapiens aren’t always safe to be around.

But I suspect there will be more unafraid young owls to watch next year. Of the eight years, I’ve lived in the complex, I’ve seen baby owls six of them.

This year’s young owls, meanwhile, have taken an interest in my downstairs neighbor’s chihuahua Ginger, who weighs just about nothing. “I stand over her while she does her business,” my neighbor says, “and keep an eye out for those dang owls.”

I don’t have to worry about Scamp as he weighs about 40 pounds and is quite rambunctious besides. So, when I do see the owls, I simply go into bird-watching mode, a hobby I took up 20 years ago. While the owls didn’t show up during this morning’s walk, I did get to watch a gila woodpecker, sitting atop a saguaro, the one whose blossoms I have been daily tracking for the past two weeks.

And it’s a rare day when I don’t see doves, both mourning and white-winged species. The smaller mourning doves

A white-winged dove keeping an eye on Scamp and me as we walk past. — Photo by Pat Bean

sleep on the ground and Scamp is always trying to sneak up on them. He enjoys chasing after the doves, well until the leash pulls him up short.

While my morning walks aren’t as exciting as they were when I was traveling around the country in a small RV, and every few days would have new territory to explore, I’m fortunate to live next door to a bit of undeveloped desert full of wildlife, including javelinas, roadrunners, coyotes, quail, and even a bobcat or two.

Such encounters, at a safe distance from some of them of course, almost make me glad that Scamp insists on getting me out of bed at o’dark-hundred.

Bean Pat: To Caroline Randall Williams for her eye-opening essay in the New York Times on why the southern monuments are a slap in the face to Blacks. It offered this southern white girl, who has never considered herself racist, a better understanding of the inequities of the past and the present. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/opinion/confederate-monuments-racism.html

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.


Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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To be outdoors and walking during Arizona sunrises and sunsets makes one feel good to be alive. — Photo by Pat Bean

          ‘The wisdom of age: Don’t stop walking.” – Mason Cooley

A Daily Ritual

            After retiring in 2004, selling my home, and taking to the road in a small motor home, I began a daily ritual that continues to this day. I walk my dog,

Mourning doves are almost a daily sight as Scamp and I take our morning walks. — Photo by Pat Bean

First, there was Maggie, a spoiled cocker spaniel who didn’t wake up until 9 a.m. and who didn’t like to get her feet wet. She was my home-on-wheels companion for eight of the nine years I lived in it.

Pepper, a sweet, gently Scottie-mix who never wanted to get out of my sight, came next and traveled with me for my final unrooted year before we began life in a third-floor walkup apartment, a choice I made because I like being on top and having a view. Six a.m. was Pepper’s wake-up time but she could be persuaded to sleep in for another hour before I had to get up and walk her.

Scamp, a Siberian Husky-Shih Tzu mix who is perfectly named and who has now been with me for a year, demands a 5 a.m. walk, and bullies me until I get up and take him for it. Thankfully I’m a morning person and am usually just as eager for the walk as he. But occasionally, especially when I get to bed late or spend most of the night reading, I get a bit grumpy about the early start to my day.

Living in a third-floor apartment without a yard of my own means these early walks are not optional. I call them my fool-proof exercise program. This is especially true since four more walks are required during the day as well.

But since its summer, and Scamp and I live in the desert where it’s currently hot as heck, our morning walks are the

Cactus is plentiful around my apartment complex, and one or another is usually in bloom. — Photo by Pat Bean

only ones of much duration. And these have been shortened in recent years because of the physical limitations that come with becoming an old broad. The long walks I used to have with my other canines is one of the few things I truly miss.

Even so, I find that if I’m observant, each shorter walk these days contains a special moment. Perhaps it’s the sight of a Cheshire moon grinning back at me between the trees as I walk down the steps. This morning, it was one of our resident great horned owls sitting on the pool fence and screeching a hiss at us as we passed it by.

Scamp was intrigued and stopped to watch until I finally pulled him forward. At 40 pounds, Scamp doesn’t much interest the owl, but my downstairs neighbor picks up her four-pound chihuahua whenever she knows this bird of prey is around.

Right now, the saguaros are beginning to bloom, and I have two large ones picked out to watch their day by day progress. Where I live is half city landscape and half undeveloped desert ridges and washes. Morning sights have included a bobcat, roadrunners, Gambel’s quail, and javelinas

Most months, it’s still dark at 5 a.m., but currently, the sun is just beginning to makes its appearance at this hour. Today was a bit overcast but the sky was full of lavender-tinted clouds. Scamp led us to the small dog park here in the apartment complex, and while he ran free for a few minutes, I watched a pair of mourning doves as they sat side-by-side on a high utility wire.

A cool breeze, like a gentle lover’s touch, ruffled my hair. It felt good to be alive – and have a dog that must be walked.

You can read more about Maggie and our morning walks in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Listen to a great horned owl hoot, coo, screech and hiss. https://www.birdnote.org/show/voices-and-vocabularies-great-horned-owls

            Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.


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