Walking in Memphis? Try Walking in Phoenix — in August

It's entirely possible that my dog is on crack. Yes, it seems cruel to libel him this way when he shows none of the worst signs of drug addiction. He's never stolen from me to finance a habit; he hasn't lost weight or suffered from hallucinations. But, honestly, there's no other explanation for his energy level.

Buckley is a border terrier, which means 20 pounds of sturdy terrier, wrapped up in a scruffy coat. (He looks kind of like Benji.) The announcers at the Westminster Kennel Club call the border terrier a "game little companion," and most of time, that seems just about right.

But the problem with 1-year-old terriers is that "most of the time" is not all the time. And the dogs strutting fancily around Madison Square Garden are seldom afflicted by the sudden bolts of crazy that struck my little guy this winter.

You don't understand how hot Phoenix is until you have a dog.
courtesy of Jen's Pet Sitting
You don't understand how hot Phoenix is until you have a dog.

I suppose it was mostly my fault. We'd moved from a nice house with a yard to an apartment without even a doggy door, and — despite daycare twice a week and lots of trips to the dog park — Buckley was clearly bored out of his mind.

I'd come home from work and Buckley would bounce six feet in the air. "HEY! HEY! IT'S YOU! I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE ALIVE! YAY!" He'd grin at me while boing-ing around like a mad pogo stick.

Often, his enthusiasm was a ploy to distract me from his bad behavior. While I was gone, he'd tear up his toys, or get into the trash. I'd come home to find Kleenex everywhere, ancient bubblegum in his paws, an old tampon under the couch. He chewed up at least a dozen ballpoint pens.

My friend Jill (a foster mom to dozens of crazy dogs over the years) explained that if your dog destroys your stuff, it's your fault for leaving it where he can get it. So the trash was placed under lock and key — but I never imagined Buckley would jump five feet in the air and ricochet off the bureau, just to get at the sombrero I used to display atop a lamp. That sombrero had real sentimental meaning, and its destruction, no matter what Jill says, was not my fault. That wasn't a lazy human; that was a bad dog on a mission.

We tried obedience class, twice, but all the other dogs just brought out the crazy. At the park, Buckley didn't want to SIT or SHAKE, even though he was awesome at both in the quiet of my kitchen. He wanted to wrestle with the other dogs.

Foster mom Jill told me that he'd probably grow out of his insanity. (He is, after all, a puppy.) But in the meantime, to save my sanity and my household goods, she had a suggestion. "He should get a lot exercise," she said. "Lots and lots of exercise."

So we began to walk, constantly. And though that was easy enough in the winter and the spring, along came summer.

You do not realize just how hot 115 degrees is until you have a dog who wants — nay, needs — to be walked in it. You may have thought you were tough because you wait 'til June to turn on your A/C, or because you hiked Piestewa Peak in the midday sun. (Once.) You may have even thought you liked the heat.

But you have no idea, really, what heat is until you find yourself living in downtown Phoenix with an energetic dog, in an apartment sans doggy door.

If this is your life, at least four times every day, no matter how hungover you are or how dehydrated or how sick, no matter how much the sun hurts your eyes, you must walk. Never mind that the heat is rising off the asphalt jungle in visible waves. Never mind that the government is actually is issuing heat advisories, warning you to stay indoors.

You must walk.

This has been my life this summer. This has been, I suppose, the summer of Buckley.

The weird thing is, it's been great.

I got Buckley last May after a crazy amount of soul-searching about "Do I really want a dog?" and "Can I really handle a dog?" I even wrote a column about it.

I thought that having a dog would change me, and I was right. What I didn't realize was how much it would change my relationship with Phoenix.

This is a car city. Our wide, straight streets are great for zipping around, but awful for walking. And for three years, I used that as an excuse not to walk.

Sure, I'd drive to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and hike through the cactus, but stroll around the actual city? Are you kidding me? The roads have six lanes. The drivers are idiots. There are no trees!

So even though my office parking lot is a mere quarter-mile from Chase Field, I wouldn't even consider walking when I had Diamondbacks tickets. Not when there's a parking garage next to the stadium. When I'd go to New York to visit my best friend from college, I'd have to buy flats. I simply had no reason to wear them, ever, in Phoenix.

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Your Godmother
Your Godmother

So, Sarah... I have found a difference between us! I love the cold and hate the hot! I can just see you walking Buckley! This is the best human interest story your uncle has ever read. He thinks you need to be syndicated!

Sandy Gillen
Sandy Gillen

I loved the article about Buckley the Border Terrier! It described a Border to a T! I have owned and bred Border Terriers for 15 years and they are a delight. You absolutely can't stay angry about anything. They get the "zoomies"(which is running in circles with their tail tucked under them) several times a day and make you laugh. They live in the moment and love their "Person" unconditionally!

Sandy GillenHappy Hobbits Border Terriers


Hey cuz! Love the article! Buckley is way cute! Love you!

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