Thursday, May 12, 2005

Companion Dog

When you're putting off doing all the things you know you have to run around and do, the best thing to have with you is a cute dog.

That is, of course, if the husband has to sleep until noon because of working overtime and not getting home until 4 am or so. Bernie would have been my preferred companion, but since he couldn't be with me, I took Howie.

Howie loves to ride in the car, just as most dogs do. He sits very straight in the front passenger seat; if we're under 40 miles per hour, he thrusts his head out the window and sniffs in the air in great gulps. Any faster than that, however, and he stops sniffing and curls in an unexpectedly compact ball on the seat and shuts his eyes.

We took a ton of paper to the recycle bin. We headed to Staples for office supplies, and then Target for paper products, then the grocery store for a few items, then the hardware store to return a defective sprinkler and to pick up grass seed. At one point, I gave Howie a chance to stretch his long legs and walk on a grassy area beside a store.

He had never been there before, and without his big brother Babe to reassure him, Howie was the most cautious I have ever seen him. Instead of prancing like a poodle, he dropped his tail and head and stalked along, low to the ground, alert and suspicious. He actually looked like a shepherd on duty.

The best thing about completing each errand was getting back in the car and seeing Howie gaze at me with welcome and affection. Going about "doing" stuff makes me irritable; but for Howie, it's an adventure, and his enthusiasm is infectious. When I walked towards the car, I could see his ears standing up; he looked like a classic Heeler, calm and reserved, eyes half shut as though nothing in the world was too difficult. Then we would make eye contact, his eyes widening while his ears flipped back, and all I could see was whippet, whippet, whippet. He sniffed delicately to make sure I'd come to no harm, and then resumed his upright position, ready for the next strange place.

Okay, I'd think. I'm ready, too.

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