One night I called a cab, put the harness on Corky, and grabbed my old hockey skates. It was late March but still cold. I told the driver to take us to a pond and come back in an hour. “Are you sure it’s safe?” he asked. “You mean the ice?” I said. “Well yeah, the ice,” he replied—though I knew he was thinking about blindness and skates. “The ice is OK,” I said. People had been skating on it for days. Even so, after the car drove away I tossed stones while Corky sat beside me. We were all alone.
Everyone who’s ever skated on a pond knows the stone test isn’t reliable but you do it anyway. It’s like spitting on your hands before raising a sledge hammer.
I removed Corky’s harness, pulled on the skates, and we ventured together out onto the ice.
I wobbled ahead half gliding half lurching. Corky sat down suddenly and stared. I yipped like a cowboy and began making slow circles. I skated while her eyes followed me. I could feel her staring through the center of my back. She knew this wasn’t smart.
I took another slow circle. Corky didn’t budge. I decided not to call her. She was honoring her own wisdom. I came back, sat down, and put my arms around her.
What a good girl she was. Like a canine mother. “I can’t stop you from doing this,” she seemed to say. “Look at me sitting. Can’t you see I don’t approve?”
“I’ll try to be smart,” I told her.
When the cab returned the driver wanted to know how the skating went. I told him it was stupendous. I couldn’t tell him my dog was worried about my well being and we’d spent close to an hour sitting in the snow.