Today, continuing our series of "Return to Normalcy" posts, I bring you Ricky and Sophie!
First off, Ricky is a chow and shepherd mix. It's the first question I asked when I met him, because of his distinctive visage. The picture above doesn't really capture that as much as seeing him in person does. He has an innate "chunky fluffiness" that is hard to replicate in two dimensions. Second, Ricky is a GREAT name for a dog. You don't hear it that often, for humans or dogs, to the exent that I thought Ricky's name was Nicky when I first heard it because my brain wouldn't process it as a dog name. It just has this...ZAZZ...to it that brings a smile to my face. You know, a certain ZING. ZORK. KAPOWZA. It's that effervescent POP that makes life worth living. Also, even though this Ricky is definitely a male pupper, the name Ricky makes me think of a sassy receptionist that snaps her gum, has long red fingernails, and incessantly curls her hair with her index finger. And yes, for the thousandth time, this is how my brain decides to pass the time: constructing elaborate narratives that don't make sense in a logical way but do have a certain metaphorical ZORK to them.
Sophie is likewise a grand name for a doggo, especially one as sweet as Sophie is. She's a grand, ol' dame of golden retriever lineage, with a heart of gold and a nose that just won't quit. She doesn't have the walking speed that she used to, but she doesn't let that stop her. Also, when I walk in the door, Ricky will immediately accost me with a coupla yips and barks and then some hand licking and then, from some distant other room I'll hear a faint "bork bork bork" as if from some deep root cellar. This is Sophie, mustering as much guard doggery as she can and it's always the cutest thing ever. Oh, and Sophie is ABSOLUTELY massive. The pic above doesn't really do her immensity justice, I'm not entirely sure the depth of field on my iPhone camera is advanced enough yet. She's not fat—lord knows I would never call any dog (that wasn't my own) fat, and especially not a lady doggo—but just a solidly framed canine. I feel like golden retrievers range from teeny and reddish to massive and white/gold, almost as if their coloring gets diluted by their big dumb ol' bodies. Sophie is most certainly of the large white gold persuasion.
My personal favorite part of the walks is the contrast betwixt Ricky and Sophie whilst we are out walking/returning home. Ricky instantly explodes out the door and heads out the front gate whereas Sophie often turns the other way and shambles towards the back gate. They both have those leashes that you can retract and lock if you need to, which is very helpful when you have two doggos of such different velocities. To make an analogy, RIck and Soph are like their own planets, Ricky a small rocky body with unpredictable motion, a short period of revolution, and a tendency to bounce off other objects in his path. Sophie is more of a gas giant with a slow deliberate dance and resistance to the gravitational pull of any other bodies.
The best part of the walk is our return to the homestead. Both dogs are super well behaved and very routine oriented, so they stroll right up to the side door to be let in. I pop Ricky off the leash and he runs up the stairs to wait patiently at the door. Sophie, due to her age and hip problems so damn common with goldens, is unable to walk up the stairs anymore. She dutifully waits at the foot o' the staircase for me to get into squat position, pop my hands under her belly, lift her up, and ferry her up the stairs. She makes a strange noise sometimes and tends to pump her legs as we near the top, but she is surprisingly okay with the situation. I mean, who wouldn't be? I wish I had a video of this interaction, because it is probably very amusing to witness. It does add more variety to my dogwalking workout, which is good as I'm putting together the galleys for my upcoming exercise book "Dog Tired: How to Lose that Paunch Walking Pooches" (...title might need a bit of work).
To close, Ricky and Sophie are a great addition to the roster of HTH puppers. Here's a pic of Ricky enjoying a Kirkland Signature doggy treat in his secret spot (please don't share this post with him, he thinks he's invisible down there).