Marty’s photo of the day #4644: Nellie loves routines, and with her it only takes once to establish a precedent. After she had TPLO surgery on November 1st, to get her bionic left-rear leg, she would get me up three and four times a night to go for walks in the forest. I was happy to go with her, because it was obvious that her leg felt better if she kept it active.

Pre-surgery, if she got me up in the middle of the night, I could just put a light on her collar and watch her from the driveway. Now, since she can’t be allowed to run until sometime in February, I have to put her on a leash and go with her.

In many ways, our walks have been beneficial for both of us. Because Nellie can walk for amazing distances—just to find the absolute perfect place to poop—I have walked more during the past three months than I’ve walked during any three-month period in my life.

And since we have snow on the ground, I have become fascinated with Nellie’s tracking ability. She only gives deer and moose tracks a few cursory sniffs, but the fox and coyote tracks are of great interest to her. While pulling me along as fast as she can, she will put her nose into a track as if to say, “Yep, coyote,” and then the next, “Yep, coyote,” and the next, and the next. Come spring, when she can smell the tracks, but I can’t see them, I will have a whole new respect for what she is doing.

On the negative side, routine-loving Nellie still gets me up just about every other night for an extended four-in-the-morning trek through the forest. At that time, even the coyotes are saying, “Go the fuck back to bed!” And when we do return to bed, Nellie will go right back to sleep. I, on the other hand, am hopelessly awake for the rest of the night. Obviously, dogs don’t get insomnia.