The paper boy is quitting.
Boy, does that conjure up all the wrong images. Makes you think of a 13 year old Leave-It-To-Beaver kid who rides his bike around the neighborhood, throwing papers into people’s flowerbeds and saving up to buy a better bike for the summer. Instead, what we got here is a former pro baseball player, now a talent scout and coach, with two giant pit bulls in the back of a huge Ford pickup truck. And he’s been on this route for at least the last fifteen years, although I’ve only been meeting him on our morning walks for ten or eleven.
And he doesn’t need the job so we won’t be seeing him any more after a month or two. Meet Darold Ellison, and meet his two dogs Titan and Troy; we’ll miss them all.
The first time I met Darold was early one morning when it was still dark and I was walking my first Belgian Tervuren, Madouc. Madouc was a skittish dog sometimes, frightened by strange dogs, but always good with people. Out of the night a large pit bull ran right up to us suddenly and I nearly freaked out, but Madouc was fine. Titan didn’t bother her at all; she just stood and wagged at him. He was running ahead of Darold and when Darold saw that he had company he called Titan back and Titan jumped in the truck. Darold apologized for Titan’s forwardness but I was impressed by Titan’s manners; the fact is, Darold has trained his two dogs far better than many high scoring obedience trainers I know have trained theirs. Later, when Troy was added to the mix I saw the same thing; Troy is a lot more pushy than Titan and he was more work for Darold to get into shape, but he did it. Both of them stay in the truck on the route, jumping out only when told it’s okay, running alongside the truck and then either hopping back in on command or hitting the dirt in a hurry as a freeze action. It’s impressive, because this is the real world, it’s not an obedience ring under controlled conditions. There aren’t any squirrels in the obedience ring.
Darold’s dogs are wiggly. They get so excited when somebody says hi to them that they practically levitate with joy; it’s pretty funny.
My dogs know the sound of Darold’s truck and they let me know when he’s in the area before I can hear it. Coulaine, my Tervuren, is a little intimidated by the sheer size of these dogs and the fact that they are so high above her in the truck but she loves Darold. My Cardigan Welsh Corgi Karloff says hello and then ignores everybody, just like he does with anybody he meets; he’s an equal opportunity snob in some ways.
It’s been great to run into Darold and his dogs over and over through the years and the walks won’t be the same without him. The subscribers will miss him too, because whoever replaces him won’t be as careful as he is about getting the paper up on the porch. I had never thought of it in those terms, but a pro baseball player would make a pretty good newspaper pitcher. Kind of overkill, but good. But now Darold is working for Metro Baseball and he’s going to drop the paper route so we won’t be seeing him and his pack for much longer.
There really isn’t much more I can say; it’s sad when friends disappear but why would he want to keep doing a paper route when he doesn’t need the cash? Maybe one day he’ll just happen to drive by my house (which isn’t even on his route) with the dogs in the back. With my luck I won’t be there.
Goodbye, Darold, Titan, and Troy. We’ll miss you.