As part of a Fusebox Festival Kickstarter.com campaign reward in Austin, Texas, writer Timothy Braun designed four personalized walking adventures for the dogs of donors. This is the first of a four part series.
“Don’t call a person a Marxist because they critique capitalism. Call them a Christian. Of course, you only have a few hours left to do that because it is Ragnarök. Vikings make everything pointless.”
–A dumb comment I made on Facebook right before I picked up Presto.
When I met Presto it was Ragnarök, and I got on my knees to look him in the eyes. I don’t know why I did this. It just seemed natural. I said hello but he was unamused. There were chickens in the yard, and children playing in the street. I told him I had a great plan. I was going to take him to a nearby pond, surrounded by large fields and an over-priced farmer’s market. The new Thinkery, a children’s museum, was there too and there were sure to be dozens of people who would want to play with him, but he was too busy looking at the chickens.
Presto is older, struggles to walk, and is covered in tumors. He is large and imposing, but he has oodles of charm. I had oodles of charm, once. Presto takes a cocktail of medications everyday and it became clear that the BarkBox I brought him would have to go to another. He lives in a cute little place in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin– a historic area where a Wes Anderson film could be shot. His front yard is smothered in chickens, many chickens, delicious chickens, chickens all the way down, which is not uncommon for Austin, but his chicken coup dominates the front yard and Presto holds court over the flock. His owner, Ellie, dashes my hopes and dreams of wild adventures around the pond when she tells me of a recent health scare in which she almost had to say good-bye to Presto. Because of this we would need to stay in the neighborhood.
Walking Presto is a punch line for a Yakov Smirnoff joke. You do not walk Presto, Presto walks you. Dragged down the broken sidewalk, it all reminds me of the time I backpacked with ponies across a New Mexican mountain range. When passing other dogs on our journey, a few barked but quickly realized that this is Presto. If those dogs had hats they would’ve taken them off for Presto. We barked at a ceramic iguana, and yes I joined him so he wouldn’t feel lonely. Then Presto lead me to a nearby golf course to watch fools and suckers launch what appeared to be chicken eggs into the sky for no reason but their own.
The air at the golf course had a hint of waffles so Presto and I investigated. He lead me to the historic Hyde Park Bar and Grill to smell the trash, lick people’s hands as they exited, and lie on the pavement to watch the cars go by. It was a peaceful morning on the parking lot pavement. As Presto led me back home, we detoured to a garage sale at the Tibetan monastery across the street from the Hyde Park Christian Church. Everyone stopped what they were doing to pet Presto– an equal distribution of petting across the nose, head, and spine. It was naked Marxism closing all around him. I asked Presto how he felt about it being the end of the world not realizing that he himself could pass away soon. It all seemed pointless and we both are too old to care. He had chickens to watch and I was wasting his time. When he led me home I got on my knees and gave him a kiss to say goodbye, knowing that I will probably never be walked by Presto again.