The dog speaks to me. And only me, it seems.
A few plaintive groans followed by a high pitched bark. She is bored.
She's our third child; the one who has learned the most from annoying persistence.
But it's not me who's most annoyed.
“Oh, my ghaaaad, would someone let the dog in when she barks,” my husband will bellow, walking in from his garage workshop and staying only long enough to open and slam the door.
What? I never claimed to be a good listener.
The pooch darts in and ambles right on over to me. She sits down and waits for my attention, as has been her custom since she was a puppy. I pet her and she goes on about her business searching for food the kids have abandoned and chasing the kitten.
She is a creature of habit.
She doesn't bother getting up at the crack of dawn when she hears me stir, or when, sneakers in hand, I tiptoe downstairs for a cup of coffee before my morning run. She knows being invited along is the exception and not the rule.
Still, I see her hang-dog expression and it weighs on me.
Summer has arrived and with it summer camp. Only a few blocks from our house at the neighborhood playground, it has been our routine to walk there and back twice a day.
But even so, the word “walk” means nothing to her unless it is said with a collar and leash in hand. Only then will she allow excitement to show in her expression.
She snaps at the air with her teeth, trying to catch the green webbed lead in her mouth. She will drag me forward, hunched down on her front legs has her rump end acts as a lever. Jump and pull, jump and pull all the way to the end of the driveway.
The Park is the promised land with all of its pocket humans lining up to bestow good tidings as they check in with the counselors. They run and play, and dash about as willie nilly as can be. She grumbles at me when I won't allow her to chase after them.
We continue our “walk,” which means meandering down to the post office; hanging out at the flag pole; and maybe wandering over to the bank, where the tellers at the window fawn over her as if she were Warren Buffet.
“Good dog,” she is told as she smiles and wags her tail. She takes their biscuits gently and often saves the treats for later, too excited to scarf them down on the spot. I slip them into my pocket for the walk home.
She barks again as the bank employees return to going about their business. Making sure they know which among their clientele is being ignored. Then she noses my pocket, reassuring herself the prize hasn't actually disappeared.
“That's enough of that,” I scold as we walk back out into the heat of the summer, temporarily grateful for this small town charm that I more often take for granted.
She is calmer now as we head back. She walks by my side without pulling, and only stops for the strongest of scents. She doesn't resist when I tighten the rein. She lets me lead her as we get closer to home.
The return trip always seems to take less time.
I drop the leash, and she runs to the porch, sitting down at the top of the stairs to wait for my arrival.
But I'm not moving fast enough. She starts to bark for me to hurry it up.