In the recent weeks, the familiar rhythm of my morning routine as a high school student has become a distant pulse of my wonderfully haphazard new regime. It wasn’t until I started living a non-school-oriented timeframe that I realized how odd my little morning routine had been for the last 12 years.
The backbone of the whole dance was without a doubt the mailman. My dog, Quincy, who is 11 going on 100 years old has, since I was in the first grade, gone out every morning and retrieved the newspaper from the driveway. He then delivers it back like a flushing dog with fresh game in his mouth to my dad’s feet where he is rewarded for his services with breakfast. In the early stages of his newspaper-fetching career, the Pavlovian response took an unexpected turn. He began to equate newspapers in general with reward, and while not entirely incorrect, Quincy became the neighborhood paper thief, stealing neighbors’ Wilton Bulletins and Wall Street Journals almost daily in expectation of a second breakfast. We simply thought the mailmen were doubling up on papers and it was perhaps a mix-up with the subscription. This led to mass confusion among the poor mailmen who kept receiving frustrated phone calls from paperless customers and customers with too many papers when, in fact, the only issue was a Labrador trying to do his best. All was resolved, although we realized Quincy’s paper capabilities were strictly one way and required manual remedy. Old dog. No new tricks.
Sundays have always posed a problem for Quincy. Not only do we receive two separate papers, but the second one is at least twice as thick as all the rest, posing an unusual challenge for our four-legged friend. The maneuver he has developed to tackle such heavy lifting really should be noted by dogs and weightlifters alike. In a graceful sweep, the dog places his nose under the heavy bundle and flips the end into the air to then land in his open mouth. The technique is almost foolproof. Occasionally, the plastic casing around the paper is a bit too close to the edge of the package, making the lift a precarious balancing act. Every so often, Quincy’s jowels close too close to one end, leading the contents of the paper to slowly slip out. This dog is old. He does not run. But when Quincy feels those pages slipping through his grip, he moves like the wind, often with a panicked look in his eye and a sad trail of articles in his wake. We give him extra treats on these days, knowing that he takes these kinds of slip-ups very hard on himself.
Just a few weeks ago, we thought Quincy had quit his job. For three days in a row, the dog returned empty handed and expected compensation anyway. The issue was that the papers were being left conveniently on the front porch, an act that to any other household would be greatly appreciated but to us left us paperless for three days and our dog without a job. This is an interesting conundrum because the delivery request would sound something like “thank you for moving the paper to be more accessible but could you please move it back to being less accessible for my dog.” In fear of sounding crazy, we let the issue slide and instead settled for a compromise. Each morning, we let the dog out the back door as usual, then sprint to the other side of the house where we take the paper, conveniently located on our front porch, and launch it into the driveway where the dog picks it up and then brings it to the back door. In an operation designed to save time, we have caused about as much work for ourselves as a piece of mail possibly could.
In all the crazy changes happening in my household between leaving for college and my younger brother starting drive and everything in between, it’s safe to say that no matter how high maintenance, the Myers family is very grateful for the old dog and his notable lack of new tricks.
Alex Myers is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.