I have been walking Nathan and Tucker everyday since mid-January, once at 7am and once at 4pm. Coincidentally, today is my last day with that schedule. It's been a learning experience. Not because of the dogs, but rather because in order to get to where they live by 7, I have to be up at 6 and out the door by 6:30. I haven't woken up at 6 since my days working landscaping at a boat marina in Buffalo, NY—and I have to say, I didn't really miss it at all. Being that it is winter in Chicago, albeit a frighteningly warm one, it is dark when I spring (read: stumble) out the door and I get to WAKE UP WITH THE SUN. Sound romantic? It isn't.
Picture me walking/running/sprinting to the bus with one eye coffin-nailed shut, avoiding commuters speeding through eminently visible stop signs/red lights/groups of pedestrians while drinking their coffee/snorting designer amphetamines and texting/sleeping, just getting to the bus stop in time for it to open its bifolding doors to me/speed away in total and complete ignorance of my existence THEN AND ONLY THEN realizing that I forgot my glasses/sanity at home. Perhaps that was a bit hyperbolic. I'm not much of a morning person.
Once I arrive at the pup's place, all of that agita disappears and everything is hunky dory. Nathan and Tucker are chihuahua mixes with a high motor, like the New England Patriots' receiving core, and a healthy distrust of all outsiders, like the New England Patriots' coaching staff. Like any dogs worth their salt, it took a little while for the puppers to trust me, and I braved many nips and bite attempts during those first few days. Now we are quite close.
Nathan is the older, calmer, wiser one, with an inquisitive face that says (to me), "I've sniffed it allll before, kemosabe." I'm not sure if this is a characteristic of chihuahuas or not, but Nathan's nose seems to move independently of the rest of his face, granting him the ability (whether purposely or not) to produce a wide range of expressions. Very cute, two vestigial doggo thumbs way, way up. He is also, and god forbid if he reads this, the plumper brother. He does carry it well, though. He's also not a great fan of being leashed up, but once confronted with the inevitability of walking, he lowers his head and accepts his fate. I'm not sure why he is so reticent to get out there, because once we break the plane of the doorway he certainly seems to enjoy himself—wiggling along at a respectable pace for a pup of his stature.
Tucker is the younger, more manic, more curious brother, with super expressive ears that seem to go on for miles. I have no idea what that means. Tucker will jump up on me the second I walk into the apartment, licking my face and hands as if I were made entirely of processed meat (although, what are human beings if not processed meat?). He has a penchant for treats, and I once walked in on him devouring a small handful of pretzel sticks that were clearly not meant for his consumption. I always give the pups a lil treat (not pretzel sticks) about halfway through our walk and Tucker is extremely skilled at licking his own lips and then jumping and snatching these morsels out of the air—it's a very cute combo.
As I said before, both dogs harbor a healthy distust of outsiders. And they consider many, many things outsiders. Most things really. I've gotten very skilled at non-Euclidian geometry in three-dimensional space attempting to avoid these threats. Here's a general list of things they are skeptical of/bark at:
Other dogs. This one is fairly normal. They tend to only freak out at dogs that are smaller than them and dogs that are larger then them. So far, zero issues with dogs exactly the same size that they are.
Squirrels. Again, normal. In this case, they only bark at squirrels smaller than them (we have yet to encounter the rare midwestern "goliath" squirrel (taxonomical classification Sciurus gigantius). The pups have a knack for spotting squirrels from up to a country mile away and just absolutely wailing at them until they recieve a light pull on their restraints.
Schoolbuses. This one makes sense. Schoolbuses are chock full of the natural enemy of chihuahua mixes: schoolchildren. I think everyone can sympathize with this, schoolchildren are objectively horrible.
The Metra train. This one is problematic given that Nate and Tuck live DIRECTLY next to the Metra train. Luckily their apartment is mostly soundproof. Outside is regrettably sound heavy, and thus they go nuts every time the train zooms by.
Airplanes. This one is confusing. They're not that loud and they are THOUSANDS OF FEET IN THE AIR. I appreciate their tenacity, but this one is a bit far fetched.
- Nothing at all. This is one is also surprising. The pups will occasionally just lose their minds barking at a tree or at literally just empty space and look at ME like I'm the crazy one when I ask them what they're barking at. Y'all are the ones screaming at nothing, don't gaslight me. I guess I am speaking to two dogs expecting a cogent answer. I guess this one is a wash.
Despite what you may take from that list, I have had a wonderful time walking Nate and Tucker this last month and change—moreso the 4pm walk rather than it's dastardly counterpart at 7am. The pups keep a brisk pace and complement eachother's personalities very well. As long as you give other dogs/squirrels/airplanes a wide berth, they bop right along. And may they bop right along for many years to come.