For purposeful procrastination, nothing tops a dog. Take this morning, for example — it’s ten o’clock and, for hours, I’ve managed to put off writing .
First, Gambit and I had to take a three-mile walk. A Terrier, after all, requires exercise. How else can he convert high energy into the calm companionship I need by my side when I finally, as my mother used to say, “buckle down to work?”
Next, I took our elderly Standard Schnauzer for his walk, shorter in length, but about as long in time, given the pace that Tycho’s ancient dignity requires. When we returned, it was time to serve them breakfast.
Since I was engaged in dog duties anyway, I decided to treat them to a little brushing before depositing them on the lawn, where Tycho stretched out to warm his old bones in the sunshine, and Gambit stood Squirrel Watch in his exercise pen.
Eventually, I brought them back inside for a morning nap, which they’re enjoying now, while I try to “buckle down to work” — until I’m summoned for my next walk.
Last week, I saw a T-shirt with a message that read “Agenda for the day: Let the dog in. Let the dog out. Let the dog in. Let the dog out … ” It’s something I wish I were wearing now!
Dogless people who procrastinate enjoy fewer options than those of us with canines. They can watch television, check e-mail, use the telephone, or track down goodies in the refrigerator. But they know they’re wasting time, which is why they often feel guilty.
I, on the other hand, know that when I’m playing fetch, keep away, or tear-up-the-toy with Gambit, I’m actually strengthening the human-canine bond and the economic future of the dog toy industry. No guilt for me.
As dog lovers, our options for avoiding the onerous are unlimited. We can go on hikes with our canines, attend classes and dog shows, and take trips to tracking, agility, and water dog events. If we enjoy challenge, there are always obedience commands to teach, practice and proof. For Gambit, this means taking time to drive him into town, because he prefers to do his proofing at the local bank, where friendly tellers hand out dog biscuits.
To really procrastinate, however, it helps if your dog has a job. I get to spend time with Gambit at a local nursing home where he works as a pet therapy volunteer. Other Terrier people dig tunnels and teach dogs to go to ground in search of prey. My brother and his Brittanies hunt birds. Our neighbor throws objects for his Lab to retrieve. Our house painter’s Collie likes to herd children and other moving things. And old Tycho is proudest when he’s busy guarding, especially when I’m close enough to praise him for protecting me.
The Dog Days of the year, the period between July and September when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises early with the sun, are past. But a little procrastination can turn these autumn days of contracting light into dog days, when “buckling down” must wait until after I take Tycho for a swim to limber up his old joints … bounce a ball a few times for Gambit to catch … and call to find out how her pup did yesterday in flyball.
And if I’m lucky, I’ll find a way to make these dog days last all year. Because the days we spend with dogs are the best days of all.