August 29, 2023

Waldo spends most of his time entertaining himself.


Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.

-Orhan Pamuk


The days have finally cooled off a bit, with high temps in the seventies to low eighties.   The humidity has dropped from above ninety percent to right around fifty.  With the drop in temperature, Waldo and I are able to start out a little later, waking at 7 AM instead of 5.  The smoke from the Canadian wildfires has dissipated and our air is once again clear (at least as clear as twenty-first century air can be).  I can now stand at the clearing above the Fort Meadow Reservoir and see the green hills of Eastern Massachusetts roll off into the distance.

I can’t help but wonder what all that smoke did to Waldo’s sense of smell.  Hell, even I could smell it!  Somehow, Waldo seems to be able to focus on some smells and block out others, like we can pick out and concentrate on a single voice in a room full of talking people.  He walks along and sniffs and snorfs as if the only thing that exists is right in front of his nose.  I guess, in a sense, it is – at least it’s the only part of the universe he seems to be aware of.  I wish he could tell me about what he experiences.  That would be interesting – and sometimes yukky, like when he’s sniffing stuff I wouldn’t want my foot next to, let alone my nose.

Waldo and I have gotten pretty good at understanding one another — mostly on a body language kind of level.  Sometimes, though, he knows by my tone of voice when I’m exasperated and want him to stop messing around and sit, goddammit.  He then plops his butt down with force – I’d expect it to go splat if it weren’t covered by so much hair.  When we’re going up the stairs to go home, he likes to roll over on his back and wriggle around to scratch it.  I get tired of waiting for him, call his name, say, “Come on!” and then, “Hey!”  At the “Hey!”, he usually knows there’s gonna be repercussions if he doesn’t right himself and get to the stairs.  But he also knows that the repercussions are an empty threat – mostly my displeasure.  They aren’t physical nor onerous and he jumps up and happily follows me along.

Then there are times when I don’t say a thing, yet he knows what I want him to do.  All I have to do is point to the bedroom and he goes into his crate.  If, on our walks, I stop to talk to someone, or look at a plant or something, he stops until I’m ready to go on.  When he poops, he stops and waits for me to pick it up, tie the bag in a knot, then continues on his way.  When his attention has been diverted to something dogly interesting and falls behind, he’ll start back up again with the slightest of jerks on his leash, like he’s responding with an, “Oh yeah.”  When we approach a dog we don’t know, he’ll slow down without fuss, as I rein in his leash to draw him close.  He’ll then stay next to me until the potential danger has been addressed.  There are so many ways, some of which I’m not even aware of, that we communicate as we go about our lives.

And it works the other way too.  If Waldo sees an approaching bike, he will stop and back up, assuming a position either right next to, or in front of me.  I shorten the leash and tell him it’s okay and he charges back to the end of his tether once the perceived threat has passed.  When he stops behind me, where I’m not looking, to do his business, I feel a tighter than normal tug on his leash and understand I need to stop and let nature take its course.  When we’re in the car (he’s not a fan), he’ll put a paw on my arm or shoulder and I know he needs some pets and pats in reassurance that what he’s going through is worth it.  I have a woman who comes by once a month to help me with some housekeeping.  He really likes her, but when she pulls out the vacuum, he’s in between my feet or trying to crawl up into the chair with me.  And the woman hasn’t even turned the thing on!  I understand and give him his due.  He calms down after a bit of fathering and we go on with life.

In so many ways, mine and Waldo’s lives are such an intimate exchange of subliminal information.  It builds a connection, a bond, that runs deep.

And it makes for very warm companionship.


I love the long shadows of the morning light.

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