I walk my son to school. Everyday, rain or shine. Well, light rain or shine. I don’t want the kid to start the day a soaking wet mess. And everyday, we see the above fuzzy face with the sad eyes that clearly beg “Take me with you!” The weather has been so hot, though, that it hasn’t been safe to take her. All summer long, Phoebe has been on mandated slug-itude. Not much of a stretch, usually. PBGVs are in the Basset family, after all, laziness comes rather naturally. But Phoebe is a “go-do” kind of dog and wants nothing more than to be with us. And since morning temperatures have recently dropped to the 50’s, she’s now good to go.
Walking with her family in brisk weather is Phoebe’s idea of heaven. She scampers ahead, tail tucked under like a furry rudder, then dashes back. She sniffs, she prances, she play-bows, chases squirrels. It’s a glorious thing. The entire walk to school is a joyful event. It’s hard not to laugh at her antics and join in the fun. I wish it could last forever. And so does she.
Here’s the fun. We walk to school daily. And every single day, Phoebe forgets what happens at the half-way point: she has to leave her boy. Each morning, we get to the sidewalk in front of the school, my son kneels and hugs her goodbye, and she is taken by complete and utter surprise as he merrily skips away to join his friends. “What the —” is her clear thought, as she strains at the leash, wags her tail and cocks her head in puzzled anxiety. Every day, she looks at me with the expression that says “He’s gone too far! Let me go get him so we can go home! Wait! Where is he going? Please bring him back to me!” And every day, my job is to drag her back down the sidewalk, ignoring her frantic backward glances and reminding her that we will get him in the afternoon. Phoebe has always had a special relationship with her boy, ever since the day we got her, but she is not above shopping for a new one. She takes a studious sniff at each passing child, as if to say “I came with one, I am leaving with one!” Every single day.
Usually about half-way home, Phoebe’s brain re-engages, and she becomes magically aware that food will be served upon her arrival. The spring returns to her step, and she bounces with glee. Most days.
Today was different. Today, instead of playing chicken at the crosswalk, a car actually motioned for us to cross. So we did. Out of appreciation and a bit of stupidity, we ran across the road. And all heck broke loose. Boy-child inadvertently kicked the dog in the hind leg. Son snapped at dog for nearly tripping him. Phoebe, always the drama queen,perceived the situation thus: playful romp interrupted by monster biting her leg. She yelped and bucked, dragging me the rest of the way across the road. Being yelled at by her boy just added icing to the poop sandwich. Having slipped her mind that her boy leaves her every single day in exactly the same place, Phoebe’s natural interpretation of his departure on this fair morning was that he no longer loved her. In the natural, healthy manner of a co-dependent, Phoebe became determined to make him love her again. Her attempts to drag me all the way down the sidewalk so she could demonstrate her undying devotion to her boy were creditable.
I somehow managed to encourage her back down the sidewalk and up the hill, but now her normal “leaving my boy behind forever and ever and ever” worry has expanded to include “boy no longer loves me, and monsters want to eat me.” She began trotting up the road, tail tucked, ears held so high that they met in the middle of her head, alert to any sound. Her sudden hurry had nothing to do with breakfast and everything to do with getting home and undercover before the leg-biters could finish her off. She responded to my calls and whistles with a wide-eyed stare. I attempted to get her attention again by means of an obedience lesson, but a frightened dog whose brain has taken a brief vacation is but a poor student. I settled for significantly slowing my pace to indicate that I did not share her worry. She didn’t buy that, either.
We were nearly home when it happened. I called her name, and she responded by trotting warily back to me. I took a playful swipe at her tail, and suddenly the light came. She play-bowed and scampered merrily up the road in clear anticipation of breakfast. Who knew that her brain button was in her bum? Maybe that’s why dogs are so attentive to that particular region. They’re trying to read each other’s minds.