She was trying to tell me something.
We were on the couch. I was pounding away on my laptop, and she had been curled up by my side. Then she rose and inched closer. Her sweet face pressed down on my shoulder for the briefest of moments as I continued to tap away at the keys. When she retreated, a moist puddle of drool was her parting gift.
“Thanks, for that.” I said aloud as she looked up at me with a start. “No charge,” I answered on her behalf and returned to typing.
My silent partner relaxed. She is not fluent in sarcasm, but she understands that the smile that settles on my face means she's not in the doghouse.
Most of our interactions have had this kind of lost-in-translation sensibility.
She barks at me when I'm on the phone. I tell her we don't have a son named Timmy, nor do we have an uncovered well. She is not convinced. She keeps barking.
I roll my eyes and put her outside. She is quiet.
She sighs and lowers herself to the ground to await my return.
“People!” she probably growls to herself, “What do they know?
Prattle on about nothing from sun-up until sun-down, check the box in their pockets every six seconds and it's not even FOOD.”
In allergy season, as each grain of pollen is explosively expelled from my sinuses, her canine outrage is awakened. She sees nothing to sneeze at. My irritation is her irritation by default.
“Dogs! What do they know?
“Eat, sleep, befoul the backyard, chase squirrels, ignore their toys, chew up something they shouldn't, cover their humans with slobbery substances when that human returns from checking the mailbox, eat, sleep and sleep some more.”
Of course, there are times when I'm sure we understand each other completely.
When I walk into the kitchen, she sits near the fridge.
When she starts using the couch as a trampoline, I get her leash.
And then there are days I wonder how ANYONE got the idea that humans and animals ever live together in harmony.
Take yesterday, for instance:
It started out as any ordinary spring day: The kids woke up; complained about it being a school day; decided they didn't want to wear weather-appropriate clothes; and got on the bus begging me to come and get them in an hour, “when it would be the summertime.”
The dog's day was ordinary, too: Woke the kids up, complained about not being allowed to go to the bus, ate the left-over breakfast and broke a dish in the process.
She needs a job, I think to myself as I sweep up the pieces and drop them into the trash. She thinks she's the dishwasher around here.
She just looks at me, tilts her head and sits. Her tail sweeping back and forth excitedly.
All day long, she follows me from one chore to the next.
Clear dishes. Start the laundry. Sweep floors. More laundry. Errands. Office. Bookkeeping. More laundry. She just watches.
She is maturing, I think, as I load the dish washer.
I glance up at the clock to look at the time, and realize the day has gotten away from me.
“Oh, the bus!” I yell and race out the door.
In no time, I am back, trailing two little humans who are babbling about their day.
And then suddenly … there was silence.
“What happened?” yelled the kids as the dog tries to slink away.
She couldn't move.
I'd guessed from the sight of her that she'd been licking the plates in the dishwasher, which I had left open in the rush to the bus, had gotten her tags caught in the lower rack. She'd panicked and dragged the thing through the house at a high enough rate of speed that its contents had scattered everywhere.
This was not what she expected either.
I patted her head as I unhooked the empty rack from her collar.
“You know … If you really wanted to be a sled dog you should have just told me.”