Walk Stick

Our after dinner walk each evening has its props. Franco’s is definitely his stick. I usually let him out before I’m completely ready, because once he sees me start getting ready, he goes in circles. When he gets out he races around the house until he locates the last place he left his current favorite stick. Then, when I come outside, he greets me stick-in-mouth.

Tonight started out typically. We commenced our walk and he dropped stick for me fairly close to the house. Most of the time I throw the stick for him in the direction we’re walking, so he’ll often cheat the distance, like a runner at first hoping to get a jump on stealing second. Now and then I’ll spin quickly and throw it the other direction, making him have to make up the distance he cheated. Tonight I did the old spin-aroo on him. Unfortunately my throw went wild because of the mittens I had on, and the stick got stuck in a tree.

This common tragedy often does not end well. Our conifer branches are so thick that the stick is often lost in the upper branches. Tonight I shined my headlamp up the tree and walked around it. I was just about to give up when I spotted it. It was probably 17′ off the ground. I told Franco we could probably get it for him, but that we needed a poker. He looked at me with such loving trust that I walked into the garage and looked around for one. I came up with a boat hook; an almost perfect tool for the job.

We walked out to the offending tree, me in a more or less straight line, and Franco in circles roughly in the same direction. We looked for the stick and couldn’t find it! It took us about 5 minutes to spot it again. It was laying on a couple of branches almost parallel to the ground. I got under it and reached up with the boat hook. There was no way I could reach it, so I cocked my arm and underhanded it up the tree, hoping to nudge the stick out of its crotch. The very first toss, it arced up to the stick and hooked itself onto the stick, and stuck up there. If there were an Olympic stick hooking event, I would have won the gold with that toss. The handle of the boat hook was now out of my reach even if I could still jump.

My next response was predictable if you know me at all… I stood out there and laughed out loud. I didn’t quite fall on the ground laughing, but laugh I did, loud and long. Wiping my eyes, I walked back into the garage and found a 10′ section of 1/2″ plastic pipe and brought it back to the site. I was just able to reach the stick with the pipe if I stood on my toes. The fact that the boat hook was holding it down against the tree crotch made it difficult to move. I poked and prodded for about 5 minutes until finally the stick fell. Franco was happy!

Unfortunately the boat hook stayed in the tree. It was now hooked on the branch that formerly held the stick. Franco looked at me as if to say, “what are we waiting for? We’ve got the stick so lets WALK.” I poked the bottom of the boat hook several times with the plastic pipe I had until it fell down. We put the stick pokers away and continued with our walk.

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