Sassy lets me know when it is time for her walk. She begins before the sun is up, then dogs my every step. I try to pick up my socks on the sly - she's there. I brush my teeth - a black nose pushes the bathroom door open. She begins flashing her triumphant grin, letting me know that nothing less than a morning walk will satisfy her.
The afternoon walk is similar. Her favorite time is 4 PM, which became 3 PM with the time change. The first notice is a gentle push of her paw against me. That can be upgraded to a paw scrape and a stern look. Tail-wagging begins slowly and becomes obviously annoyed, with some high-pitched whines added. "You don't like whining? Take me out." Once she hears some of the magical words - out, walk, go - she jumps around barking.
On the walks, my inspections are entirely visual while hers are olfactory. That is one reason why she changes her favorite street regularly. Yesterday, she chose Joye street and bounded down the sidewalk to catch up on messages. Visiting strays are just as intent on catching up at our yard, which proves that digital device addiction has its parallel in the dog world. Try to get a dog's attention when there are messages in the bushes or grass. Impossible.
We had a warm, wet winter, and an early spring, so the red bud trees are enjoying an explosive blooming that I have never seen before. The dogwoods were done just as the redbuds began to open up, so we have quite a display next door, around our neighborhood, and down the main street - Elm Springs.
I always take my Gandalf staff, because loose dogs show up here and there. The largest dogs are afraid, for good reason. They do not mind an attempted kick. The person is off balance and they side-step away. As LI said, "A dog has every advantage over a man in a street fight - center of gravity, speed, and weapons." The Gandalf staff is an equalizer. I am sure most of the dogs are relatively friendly and probably amorous. The trouble is, Sassy gets scared and barky fast, which is interpreted by the strays as a threat. She is a drama queen for good reason - four dogs have started something with her, knowing she is weak and unbalanced. Larger dogs are more likely to become aggressive and fight now, so I thrust the staff at them and tell them, "Begone!"
The latest was a Husky, a beautiful dog that was bounding all over the block while his owner's car was being fixed. He wanted to do an inspection, but I was wary of an escalation between him and Sassy. My second warning had him running like a scalded dog, without doing any harm.
|Sassy loves to cool down in the damp grass,|
usually picking out a spot in the deep shade.
Sassy knows the staff is a feared weapon. She chooses to ignore me at times. I tap it on the sidewalk and she listens. If I point it at her, she stops whatever she is doing and comes over to me. If necessary, I hold her head and talk softly about her need to listen and be safe.
Sassy has learned to ask permission when meeting new people. She looks at me, smiles, and waits for the OK. Dog lovers will ask for her name and call her over. She wiggles her way over and gets special attention. Her attitude is so kind and gentle that everyone admires her and asks about the missing leg. She befriended some small children at the same time their mother was getting to know Mrs. I at the clothing store. Said their mother to my wife, "I know your husband. I see him with your dog every day."
We don't have a daily walk in the woods, but we have a twice-a-day walk in our neighborhood. I tell my urban ministry classes, "That is one way to get to know all the neighbors. They come outside at various times. They like to talk to the dog or about the dog. Various connections are made and friendship develops." I give away Bibles, illustrated Bibles, children's Bibles, The Story of Jesus in Pictures, and plenty of gardening advice when asked.
|Giant Aliums will provoke conversations -|
they belong to the garlic family.
"What was that purple flower I saw in your yard?"
The next shocker will be giant Elephant Ears.