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“I’m On A Schedule, Here … “

My ex and I share custody of our dog. When we were together, it took us four years of debating and discussing to really decide that our lifestyle was able to handle the structure required to give a dog a decent life. Four years after acquiring said pooch, we broke up. Things have worked out well, though, and our dog (who is about to turn 10 in October) spends part of her time with my ex and part of her time with me. As of last Sunday, I have her for three weeks. Her name is Freddie. (That's the dog's name, not my ex's name …)

All this by way of saying that when I am on dog duty, my life shifts into a different set of gears. I have to be home more often and with more regularity. I don't have a back yard, exactly, so her exercise and, er, business need to be taken care of according to a reasonably regular walking routine.

Enter: new job. I now work 1.5 hours out of the city, however I only need to make the trip physically two or three times a week. This is the first week I've had both new job and Freddie, and I'm spending quite a bit of brain-time figuring out how to do errands efficiently and still make it home within my own personal expectations of being a responsible dog-owner.

On Monday, I had three errands to tend to after work and decided one was best done on the way home and the other ones could be done with Freddie in tow, and after her walk. Although I left Guelph later than I should have, traffic wasn't bad and I was back in the city by about 5:00 p.m., looking for parking on a residential street just north of the Danforth. I spotted a silver Toyota that the driver had just gotten into, put on my signal and waited. Nothing happened for the longest time. The driver, a gentlemen in his late 60's I'd say, seemed perturbed. Finally, he got out of the car and walked over to my car and said, "My car won't start – I think the battery is dead."  Here, on my blog, I admit that my first thought was, "Oh, for Pete's sake … now I have to find another spot cos time she's a tickin' …" but then I remembered that I *still* have those cables that my colleague P "lent" me. I use the term "lent" loosely as she put them in my car two years ago and I haven't given them back … yet. I took a deep breath, shoved aside mental images of my doggie with her legs crossed, and smiled at the man. "I have some cables – I can help." His face brightened considerably. "Really?" he said, with relief.

I moved my car into position in front of his and rummaged around for the yellow bag with the cables. Here, I must admit I've never done this before. Sure, I've stood around while other more competent people have rigged up the cables. I've watched and I understand the basics. However, when you have two older brothers who delight in scaring the crap out of their little sister by making sparks fly using booster cables … and when they loved to do this as often as possible on every piece of farm equipment that even remotely needed a boost … well, one treats this whole process with some respect.

"Sir, would you mind holding this end of these cables for a minute? Thanks. No – wait …hold them apart from each other, don't let the metal parts touch … really, you do have to be careful about that … see those plasticky-rubbery handle bits? You really must keep your hands on those. Good … OK … red on my red … red on your red. Check. Black on your black … black on my ground … "

You know, on modern cars, plastic looks a lot like metal … not much was happening at first. I took a deep breath and moved my black to the black post on the battery and … voila! Presto, starto … now, to carefully remove the cables …

"Sir, I'm going to hand these to you as I take them off, in order. You really MUST touch only the plastic handles … and you really MUST NOT let the metal parts touch … "

The whole thing took less than 10 minutes … what really surprised me was the helplessness of this fellow. He had a sort of lost kitten look about him that made me wonder if he was really capable of driving a car. Then, I wondered if the car with dead battery thing was just a ploy to keep Alzheimer's ridden grandpa at home … but he was well down the street by the time this thought occurred to me. I just did what Mom taught me to do – tried to help where I could. It is possible that what feels like helping, to me, might not actually be so helpful at all … as I pondered all this, thoughts of Freddie with her legs crossed began to intrude, and I hurried through my errand to make up the lost 10 minutes.

I made it home to find my dog not in distress at all. As per usual, she slept for most of the day and, as far as she was concerned, I might have been gone only one hour instead of much longer. She seems way less concerned with the whole scheduling thing than I apparently am.

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