(Photo credits: Chuck Babbitt, Eddy and Robin Scanlon, Murphy)
For my Hawaii 5-0 bday, I did a month-long apartment swap with friends that live in a marina on the windward side of Oahu in Kaneohe. Kaneohe is where I previously, and very happily, lived and dog-walked for 4 years (until Hawaii spit me out like an unemployable haole loogie).
Since this was such a milestone birthday, the week of it involved 4 dinners, 2 concerts, a racing sail and a fundraising dog walk. Seriously, I was just short of a parade and a key to the city.
For the actual day, I decide to do a Humane Society-sponsored fund raising hike then dinner at my friends that own the dog that would be mine (Murphy, 5 yr old cocker spaniel) if life gave you everything you ever wanted. Following my chosen path of least maintenance, I chose a bday where I could get away with being a makeup-less, baseball-capped, sweaty mess in the company of males that prefer me stinky.
I planned for the fund-raising event by getting Murphy’s mom, Robin, on board with Murph and recruiting my cousin, Chris, who lives near the hike. Since Chris was coming, I felt we needed another dog to lessen our 3-to-1 human/dog ratio.
Robin didn’t want to bring Maddy (their crazy young boxer) because she’s too much of a hand full. It’s like she is the spastic kitten and everything is the dancing string.
Some backstory on my relationship with Murphy… I was his human puppy playmate sitter from the time he was 5 months old as his parents are photographers and have a lot of travel with their work. Apparently, I am the opposite of the dog whisperer — I am the dog riler. Kris, his dad, would tell me, “Each time after you stay, we basically have to re-train him”. He’d say this as I was either running my hands over Murphy’s snout saying “bite, bite, bite, bite, bite” or knocking on the wall and saying “who’s there?” and encouraging him to bark. Kris would walk away from these conversations muttering, “You’re the one that needs to be in the crate.”
I ask Lisa and Chuck (neighbors in the marina I’d just met) if their handsome dog, Eddy, could be my date. Although they were going to be out of town and friends would be taking care of Eddy, they reluctantly agreed.
I rush from the sail to bust Eddy, whose sitters are gone for the day, out of his house. This tail-wagging (rubber) baller is just so damn game! Here’s a veritable stranger hijacking him into a car, but still he hops in completely eager for whatever is afoot (or is that apaw?). I open the windows enough for him to hang part of his helmet head out and the ancient canine call of the car window breeze works its magic — for a while. I placate his whines about 15 minutes in when he’s like, “this was fun to start with and I love the breeze up my nose, but when do we get out — and who the hell ARE you?”. We finally get to Makapu’u (pronounced Mock-ah-poo-oo) and he meets my boy, Murphy, Chris, and Robin.
Poor Murphy is confused as I’m meant to be his alone until death do us part, but I’ve got Eddy in tow. Murphy does his best to ignore Eddy (which is hard to do when Eddy nose is lodged in his butt). Murphy is undoubtedly thinking, “I was so relieved that sister of mine, the gangly oaf, was not on this hike buzzing around me like an annoying mosquito. Now who is this dopey jet black lug you’ve brought to take her place? This is grounds for divorce, puppy woman.”
After all butts are thoroughly sniffed and the understood hierarchy of dog dominance is established with little Murphy decidedly on top, we head up Makapu’u. Eddy’s gung-ho up the first lengthy incline then eventually realizes he’s got a long way to go and finds his pace.
Only Eddy knows why he goes for some dogs and completely ignores others. These big fluffy, white dogs trotted by and he charged for them (he likes white girls?) then some whippets stalked past and he acted like they didn’t exist (he prefers the thick ladies?).
He hit every water bowl sprinkled along the trail — a couple were so well-used he was basically drinking others’ slobber. Murphy, on the other hand, would only drink clean water and avoided all the bowls. Murph is very much the opposite of Eddy — he doesn’t like grass because it pokes his feet, doesn’t play with other dogs at the park, the little diva won’t go out in the rain and he sure as hell won’t drink a bowl of backwash.
I filled Eddy’s collapsible bowl and Robin warned me to let Murphy have it first. Murphy had a few tentative sips then when Eddy got his turn, he nose-dived into it with considerable gusto, and almost ate the bowl.
At the top of the hike, the Humane Society team took pictures of the dogs. As soon as his photo op was through, Eddy vigorously rolled in the dirt and proudly rose covered in brown dust. I quipped, “Now that the paparazzi has found him, he is disguising himself — he’s become a chocolate lab.”
We ran into the HS photographer on our way down, but he’d consistently forget the dogs’ names when he’d try to get their attention for another shot. I advised, “You can remember them as the hilarious comedy team of Eddy Murphy.”
On the descent, Eddy’s hips were swaying like a hula dancer’s and his toenails were scraping across the concrete as he was starting to run out of steam. Every once in a while, he’d turn around and bury his nose in either Robin’s or Chris’s crotch then carry on with a spring in his step like he just needed a sniff of someone’s junk for motivation.
I briefly handed him off to Chris, and that was when he made-a-poo on Makapuu. The unwritten rules in dog walking go, whoever drags him, bags ‘em, so Chris’s timing became a bonus birthday present.
I took the reins the rest of the way, and we ran into Eddy’s parents’ diving friend and her little dog. She recognized me from a dinner at their house, and said, “Hi, I met you at Lisa and Chuck’s the other night.” I said, “This is Eddy!” (she didn’t recognize him out of context). We then had one of those “how amazing we ran into one another when we just go in circles around this rock anyway and it is impossible not to, but we are still wowed by the coincidence of it each time” moments.
Near the end of the hike, Eddy, Murphy (who was off-leash) and I were well ahead of Chris and Robin. It was downright primal how Eddy accepted that pint-sized Murphy was the alpha and obediently shadowed him — to Murphy’s indifference. But at one point, uncharacteristically ignoring Murphy’s lead, Eddy stopped and waited for Chris and Robin to catch up then contentedly carried on — as though he was saying, “Are you my family now? Ok, I will wait for you.” (I imagine Eddy’s voice would be like the voice of that big cartoon dog that thinks Daffy is his “own little bunny rabbit”, and says “I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him.”)
Once we got down the hill and across the finish line, a slew of water bowls awaited. Eddy lustily tried the water out of every one. I asked, “Which one is just right, my panting Goldilocks?” Chris said, “Perhaps he has a future as a water sommelier.”
Murphy and Eddy got bandannas and a poop bags for their efforts. I got a walk that would not have been near as fun without Eddy’s Oscar to Murphy’s Felix.
I can’t help but smile at a dog whose tail unconsciously wags with each step (Eddy) — or one with no tail whose butt wiggles so hard when he sees me I fear he may break in half (Murphy). Without doing anything except taking a walk, those two made it the happiest of birthdays.