ashland.news
July 18, 2024

Ask Strider: How to grow a friendship

Mr. Naughty in his happy place. Photo by Alex Cox
June 18, 2024

The politics of relationship and a canine bucket list

By Strider the Dog

Dear Strider,

As I recall, a while ago you mentioned a friend of yours was an old cedar tree. I’m kind of curious about this relationship. How did you meet? Did it take you long to get friendly? What’s the story between you now?

And how does your friend feel about logging and controlled burns?

Any information appreciated.

Arborist-in-training

Dear Arborist,

That’s right, the Old Cedar Tree in our front meadow is a great pal of mine.

Strider the Dog

We met the first summer Shadow and I came to Oregon, when I took to lounging under the shade they so thoughtfully provided. They made the first friendly gesture, which was only right, seeing as how they are so much more august than me, a mere dog. “Ho,” they said (as I recall). “You down there. New to the place?”

I stood up politely and wagged my tail, as I am wont to do, and answered, “Yes, honored Tree. I’ve only recently become part of the pack. I hope you will welcome me and my pack mate, Shadow, to your fiefdom.”

(Listen, I might have been a street dog, but we dogs know it’s important to be courteous when on other’s territory.)

“You’re very welcome,” they said. “And feel free to pee on my lower trunk whenever you like. It’s quite refreshing, especially in summer.”

That was how it all began. I could tell they were wise beyond anything I knew, and I often go to the Tree for advice, especially when a letter here stumps me. They always have a word of wisdom that opens my eyes.

As to how the Tree feels about logging and controlled burns, I don’t know. I don’t want to ask. Why risk losing a beautiful friendship over politics?

How do humans feel about that?

Dear Strider,

We humans all have places we’d like to go where we haven’t yet been. Are dogs the same? If so, where do you dream of going?

— World Traveler

Dear World,

What an interesting question. As a matter of fact, I do have a place I dream of going. I’ve even been there once, though I’m getting a little old now to make the trip.

When I was in Carrie Wright’s dog orphanage, Fedwell Farms in the desert of Arizona, she had this fence that ran all along the road outside the farm. What I really liked to do was wait for a truck at one end, and race it to the other end of the fence.

Now, sometimes we live at the beach. There’s this river that runs into the ocean, and we walk on one side of it. On the other side, up above the beach on the other side, is the highway. What used to be my greatest delight was to run up and down my side of the river, chasing the trucks up there. Tod calls this place, “Strider’s Beach, where the trucks are just out of reach.”

But what I really yearned to do was cross the river and chase the trucks from that side. One time the tide was out enough, and Tod was distracted enough, so I could make it across. That was so much fun. The ocean coming in, the river going out, me breasting across on the rocks. It was worth every minute I pretended not to hear Tod yelling for me to come back. She wasn’t wearing her Bogs that day, so I knew she couldn’t follow and grab my collar. I don’t think she knew I’d clocked her footwear and planned the whole thing.

That was a wonderful experience. I still dream about it. But you know, I’m getting older now, and I don’t even chase the trucks on the right side of the river. Still, I do like to tease Tod now and then, and start wading into the river, looking up, as if I’m going to make a run for it.

What kind of places do you dream about, World? Do you tease a loved one, telling them that’s where you’d rather be? I’ve noticed humans do that a lot.

Just saying.

Got a question? Or maybe a dream to relate? The Ashland.news advice columnist is here to listen, learn, and share an exchange of views between species. Just email askstrider@ashland.news.

Picture of Tod

Tod

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