My hosts here kindly found us a pet-friendly hotel, the Sheraton downtown, so Ned has just spent his first night in a hotel. The best part was the big bed, which allowed for mutual sprawl. We were both worn out from travel and the reading (three hours on a college campus with a lot of people around is little overstimulating for a young fellow) and unwound from the reading with answering e-mails and much rubbing of the blonde belly.
This morning, however, was a little more frantic. The patient and calm Ned, once he saw me putting on my socks, began to wiggle and jump and bark. (Is there anyone in the next room?) Down the hall to the elevator, and when the doors slid open Ned walked in, eyed the smooth travertine of the floor, and started to pee, the spreading puddle distinctly yellow against that bone-colored stone. What to do? I stuck my foot in the door, which alarmed Ned so much he ran out of the elevator back onto the carpet. I thought about running back to the room for a towel, but surely the elevator would be gone by the time we got back. On the bureau across from the elevator door was one copy of USA TODAY -- the perfect use for that paper! I wadded it up and set to work, Ned pulling at his leash and looking at the doors (which kept trying to close) with alarm. Then some kind of buzzer went off, a sign that something -- me -- was stuck between them. If I pulled my arm in, the doors would close on the leash, I'd be going down, and Ned would be left on the third floor wondering what happened. It didn't seem possible to push forward, but I gave it a go and the doors loosed their grip, sending me tumbling toward Ned and the paper sleeve of my coffee cup cup flying down into the bit of pee that remained on the floor. Maybe that would make it look like a bit of spilled coffee?
So we headed to the stairs, me with my big bundle of wet newspaper, Ned excited about walking down the hall. I forgot that he has been afraid of going down flights of stairs; in the city, where we live in a third floor walk-up, he simply sits down at the top of the stairway and expects to be carried down. This morning, no such thing: he went trotting down four flights of stairs into the lobby, where we strolled out to the revolving door and the sidewalk: Baltimore! October! So many thing to attend to: pigeons, passing dogs, children in strollers, anyone wearing a hat. We were promptly thrown out of a corporate plaza across the street, then headed west, into a universe of things to be investigated by nose and mouth: spilled drinks, urine, napkins, chicken bones, pizza crust, kleenex, KFC boxes, more newspaper, and the invitingly distinct scents of the shoes of men sitting at bus stops.