Late Fall in Westchester County means different things to people. From installing storm windows, to buying thick roadside cider, to putting new oil in the car. Or if you don't have any, then roadside cider in the car. But for dogs, fall holds a completely different fascination. The streets, from Scarsdale to Yorktown, are piled high with leaves and pups love jumping in them. Now people with small dogs are sometimes worried they might lose them in these leaves. But if that happens, you can usually find a dog left from last week. Who's every bit as good.
It's only fair that after what we've been through with these dastardly droppings from the trees, that we get something good out of it. All spring, all summer, all autumn, leaves fall on our lawns. Followed by the endless sound of that vicious musical instrument, the leaf blower. Which emits one, off-key note, that repeats and repeats until you think you'll go completely crazy. Yes, it's just like listening to a Neil Young guitar solo.
But finally, we're coming to the end of this madness. And the results are big yellow-and-orange piles for our dogs to play in.
Happy, my Golden Retriever, really loves leaves no matter what Westchester town they're stacked in. I think it's because of the treasures he finds while foraging in them. Once he pulled out a pair of high-waisted men's slacks. Another time, a cigar. I took them away from Hap, of course. But if he'd been allowed to use both, he could've gone out on Halloween dressed as Fred Mertz.
If we're lucky, the Golden and I come across others of his kind, who've already discovered this big doggy version of Chuck E. Cheese. For instance, not long ago on Garth Road, in Scarsdale, we actually approached a leafy pile that contained a Lab puppy, a dachshund and a Wheaten Terrier. Things started out playfully, with each dog pushing the other's head under the leaves. But soon, alliances formed, sides were chosen and Hap and the Wheaten took on the other two. All it needed was some finger snapping and it could've been the dog version of "West Side Story."
Then there was that time in Rye, on Barlow Lane, when the Golden and I found another pile of leaves. There was a Boxer in it, who was pushing around lots of smaller dogs. Happy wandered in, kicked the Boxer in the side and got him in a leg-lock, until he 'tapped out.' If it wasn't clear before, it should be now: it clearly pays to watch "Bully Beatdown" with your pet.
Now, a certain ability to read the neighborhood you're in, comes into play here. Although most people are pretty indulgent, there are actually people in our county who freak out if your pup plays in their piles. If you see any of these humor-challenged folks, you'd do best to keep marching. Once, when Happy dug into a pile in New Rochelle, a woman told us we'd better put everything back the way we'd found it. If we hadn't had some help from a couple of neighborhood dogs (who knew where everything went), we'd still be there.
Of course, there is one serious drawback to letting your dog rummage through the last of the autumn leaves. A woman I spoke to the other day, said such places are often a gathering place for ticks. I told her that was okay. That the same thing could be said about Happy. In fact, I couldn't be sure that several of his hadn't hopped off at this pile. To hitch a ride with another dog.
But no matter. Just make sure when you get your canine home, you check his coat. And give him a full cavity search. Anything that you pull off him that keeps moving? It gets stepped on. After that, you're free to return to your local leaf pile whenever you two want. And you and your dog might want to do this sooner than later. After all, winter's coming.
Rye City School District on 2-Hour Delay
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