01:05:45 am on
Friday 14 Aug 2020

Gandalf the Surveyor
AJ Robinson

Over the years, I had dogs that did a myriad of crazy behaviours. Shakespeare was an opera singer. Romeo was a true Lassie dog, a collie totally dedicated to protecting people. Although I don’t remember him, Figaro was an excellent crosswalk guard; he was very good at guiding me down Commonwealth Avenue, in Boston, where I grew up, and from our cottage to Sunset Lake, on Martha’s Vineyard, which included crossing a busy street to get me to the place to feed the ducks.


Gandalf out does the others.

Just recently, Gandalf, our current dog, outdid all the others. He showed himself to be an adept surveyor. It was Saturday morning when his true colours emerged.

We were watching Real Time with Bill Maher, which originally aired the night before.  Gandalf scratched at the back door, which meant he needed to go out to do his business. Gandalf is quite the house dog, he does not like being outside and only goes there when he must; thus, we knew he meant business.

I jumped up, opened the sliding door and promptly set off the alarm. I’d forgotten to disarm it. As I fumbled for my phone to get to the App, noise came from outside; the two Great Danes, which live next door, were in a barking match with Gandalf.

Now, I had two actions with which to contend. I’m stumbling out the door to try and corral Gandalf, as I’m also trying to punch in my access code for the alarm, so we don’t get the police dispatched to our place. Fortunately, there is a fence separating our yards; the dogs did a little woofing and yapping at each other, but nothing more.

I finally gave up on the App and went to the control panel. Gandalf followed me. It seemed he didn’t like those dogs bothering him while he took care of business.

The alarm off, I let him out the front door and then did my duty by following him and standing off to the side, with a bag, to tend the area once he was done. Now, normally, he would go to the end of our driveway, do what he must, sniff around a bit and then dash back inside. As I said, he does not like being outside.


Gandalf the surveyor.

Not today, though. First, he went to the very front corner of our unit, our townhome, which is in a row of similar condominiums in our complex, and did what he must there. Next, he moved to the corner of the next unit, the one with the Great Danes, and did the same. This was not that an unusual occurrence, he’d done the same in the past and I and Jo Ann had always been good about picking up after him.

He then moved on to the next unit, did the same and the unit beyond that one and struggled valiantly to drop yet a fourth load. By this time, he was just about spent. After all, he’s a small dog, so his colon is far from huge. I followed right along and got all his little messes.

I had to laugh. It’s often said that dogs, especially male dogs, will pee on a tree or post or some other fixture, I believe the classic item is a fire hydrant, as a means of marking their territory. Well, little Gandalf was not merely content to do that, not this day. No, he was going to show those big dogs who was boss, who truly owned the neighborhood.

What I found particularly hilarious was the fact that he’d been so precise in his placement. Almost every pile he laid down that day was right exactly at the property corner of each unit. As an engineer, I’ve dealt with surveyors for years, and so I know their terms and equipment.

At the end of our driveway is what’s known as a PK Nail and Disk, which is often used to mark a property corner. As the name implies, it’s a small round metal disk and a nail that is driven through the disk into a solid base, usually a rock or concrete, to serve as a monument to indicate a legal boundary. Well, Gandalf placed markers of his own as his way of telling those barking dogs, “Hey, this is my place, and don’t you forget it.”


Future hope.

I’m hoping that in future he can go easy on his surveying and confine his activities to our property.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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