One foot in front of the next

In 1994, I found a 5-6 month old puppy dumped along the highway in Arizona. Alone, hungry, thirsty and left for dead – I was not leaving this puppy behind to suffer the fate that his previous ‘family’ had bestowed on him. In the back of my truck he went. At the time, US93 from the Hoover Dam (this was pre-bridge days) had no commercial development from the dam to Kingman (AZ). The 1st place we arrived at to get this starving puppy any food was a Carl’s Jr. His 1st meal as a part of my life was 2 Carl’s Jr Cheese Burgers (no onion, pickles, lettuce or tomato). A bit later, I bought him some bottled Spring Water so he could have water to drink – I was with a friend and we were shopping for some land and it would be several hours before we made it back home in Las Vegas. He was certainly living a better life then the one he was destined for had I not stopped where I did that day.

At the time I did not really want a dog, I had 2 cats and I worked a lot. Arizona (as we had named him) loved kids and the neighborhood kids often stopped by the side gate and would pet him. I tried for about 6 months to find him a home with kids – to no avail. He was with me for the duration.

Over time, we lost our two cats as they crossed the Rainbow Bridge to the play ground in the sky. It was Arizona and I and it would be for the next 6 years. By now there were 3 daily habits a part of our routine.

(1) I grilled on a George Foreman Grill 5 pounds of ground beef. I ate a couple – he got a burger a day. {Before you yell at me, it was cooked on a Foreman draining most of the grease and the burgers were dried between paper-towels which soaked up more grease A lot healthier for him then any commercial dog food.}

(2) He played every day with his common law wife {my dog in law} – a neighbor’s dog 3 houses down. There are stories, poems and pictures that also available.

(3) Twice a day, regardless of weather, I walked him at least around my block. Some days we made it a little farther then others. It was generally how I felt and how much time I had that defined the distance.

On these walks we routinely saw some of the same neighbors – many that would stop and pet him. I should point out that when walking him just around my block – he was seldom on a lease. I had it. He was just not hooked to it. So early on, Arizona was generally in front of me by 10-15 feet. And if I stopped to talk to someone he would give me “The Look” about he wanted to go. I should point out that when he wanted to stop and be petted by someone, I was expected to wait for him. Kids!!

One extremely friendly neighbor that would always stop what he was doing and talk to Arizona was ‘Bill’. Bill would always know that I was coming when he saw Arizona pass by the shrubs that marked the boundary between his property and the adjacent one.

During Arizona’s final year, he was getting slower and slower. Not having the energy of before – it was more common that I would be in front of him. I never made him go for walks – he wanted to. I would always take him knowing our time together was limited.

One day maybe only a couple months before he crossed the Rainbow Bridge to join his brothers, while walking I arrived at Bill’s before he did. As Bill and I chatted, Arizona caught up to me and was rewarded with a head scratch from Bill. He was then ready to move on. As I left to follow him, Bill commented, “He may be slow – but he keeps putting one foot in front of the next”.

Putting one foot in front of the next.

Since Arizona’s passing, I have suffered several financial, medical, personal and professional set backs. Many times I am down on me, down on my situation, down on everything. And then I remember: Putting one foot in front of the next.

I may not want to do it for me – but to honor Arizona, I must keep Putting one foot in front of the next.

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