At the top of Dawg’s self-created job description, you will find “eat that piece of paper you’re holding,” “greet every living being who crosses my path,” and most importantly, “keep the Tall One’s dignity in check.”
I’m really lucky to have this particular dawg, because he is unreasonably sweet, for 23 3/4 hours a day. That other 15 minutes is a doozy, though.
He’s invented a couple of new games. The first is “Flop,” and the second is “Leash.” I get him up at 6:15, and try not to laugh at how dazed and sleepy his is. Really, it’s not payback for all of those weeks of him waking me up at 4:48 a.m. But he gives me the it-can’t-be-time-to-get-up face, and then does a biiiiig dramatic stretch, and he follows me reluctantly outside. He reminds me of nothing so much as a toddler in footie pajamas, dragging his blankie, too sleepy to stay quite upright. Don’t feel too sorry for him, he gets to stay home and make blanket forts and read comic books and nap all day while I’m at work. It all evens out.
There’s a lot of balking, that first block, but we make it ever so slowly down to about Person Street. That’s where he Flops. Straight-up belly flops, either in the grass or in the new patch of really smelly mulch, and he puts his face down on his paws and gives me the Big Eyes. He will not budge. Last week a woman stopped at the intersection rolled down her window and yelled out, “That is so cute praise the Lord!” and just chuckled and chuckled. There is nothing you can do with Flop but wait it out.
After Flop, and a lot of people laughing, Dawg has found the energy to continue the walk, but we usually only get a block or two before Leash starts. He trots ahead, then balks until I’m ahead of him a step or two with just enough leash hanging between us for him to attack. And then it is all-out tug of war on the Capitol sidewalk. Tail wagging so hard he looks like he’s going to come undone, and every muscle that is not wagging is entirely devoted to tugging. He gets excited and tries to get some leverage with his paw, and then gets tangled because he does not understand how physics works, and I tell him, “It’s a good thing you’re so handsome,” as I untangle him and people laugh out their car windows. “Looks like he wants to walk himself!” they yell. Or, “That’s about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen!” A couple of days ago we looped around the Capitol, having already caused a spectacle, and a man on foot stopped us up by the science museum. “Is THIS the dog who was stopping traffic?” he asked. “Made my day.”
Well. I’m glad people are enjoying it. Our walk is now taking us ten minutes longer, and this is why I had to go to work yesterday without washing my hair. There is nothing to do but stop every two feet and re-claim the leash, make him sit and calm down and pet him and tell him how handsome he is, and walk another two feet at a time until he sees a squirrel and forgets all about Leash. Until the same time, same block, tomorrow.
In all honesty, I can’t believe he’s this good, because I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t believe he even knows his name, because it’s rare that I call him “Fletch.” It’s usually “Sweet” or “You Sweet Dawg” or most often “You Sweet-Faced Dawg.” Sometimes it’s just “Daaawg,” If he’s in trouble: “YOU.” With one eyebrow raised.
It’s hard to stay mad at anyone who looks like a Muppet when he puts his face down on his paws and gives you the Big Eyes. And who looked like this when you got him:
Even now, forty or fifty pounds later, he’s pretty cute. He’s eight months old today, and I’ve had him exactly six months. I didn’t know he was going to be a redhead, or be extremely attuned to train whistles, or be a pretty good balance of sweet and feisty, or that popcorn would be his favorite food, or that I’d be willing to let him sleep on my bed with his chin hooked over my ankle. We’re a pretty good match, we two. I’d say he’s a good sidekick, although he’d argue that I’m the sidekick and he’s in charge, but we won’t quibble.
Speaking of bed, that’s where we’re headed. Looks like we have to get an earlier start tomorow.