A few days ago, I was at the park up the road, playing ball with Sophie. She was returning the ball to me, and I saw the exact moment when she spotted something more interesting behind me: a little pause in the run, the head turning, the eyes looking beyond me, and then a bolt forward, higher-speed, the mad race to reach the more interesting, instead of the lope of a simple ball return.
I turned to see what she’d spotted. Another dog, on leash, had entered the park and was walking down the sidewalk with his person. Said person then leaned down and said, “Hello, Sophie, how are you?” while rubbing Sophie’s ears. Sophie, ignoring the dog in favor of the person, said hello far more politely than the mad dash would have suggested, then returned to our game.
Did I say anything to the person? I honestly don’t remember. I might have said something like, “Sorry about that,” and she might have answered me, but maybe not, too. But as I returned to playing ball with Sophie, I wondered. Had I said Sophie’s name? Had I called her? How did this stranger know my dog’s name?
Later the same day, or maybe the next day, I was at Creamery Field, another place where I play ball with the dogs. There’s a fenced garden adjacent to the field that belongs to the Montessori School down the street. A few people were in the garden and as Sophie and I were playing, they started to leave. One of them, a student, called over to me. “Is it okay if I say hi to Sophie?” I said, “Sure, of course,” and headed in her direction. Sophie saw what was happening and ran over to the girl. She dropped her ball at the girl’s feet, wagged her tail, permitted a little petting, then nudged her ball, which the girl properly picked up and threw for her. Sophie ran off, the girl said, “Thank you,” to me, and I replied, “Sophie’s pleasure!” But as they left, I wondered. How had she remembered Sophie’s name? We had met her before, it wasn’t the first time she’d petted Sophie, but still…
A day later, Sophie and I were on our way home, when the neighbor on the corner — who I have never met, never before actually spoken to, and would have no chance of recognizing out of the context of her walking out her front door — came out her door. She spotted us and said, sounding delighted, “Oh, hello.” I said a polite hello in response, and she followed up with, “Hello, Sophie, how are you?, what a good girl, so sweet,” as she bent down to greet Sophie effusively. Sophie lapped up her praise with enormous waves of her ridiculously fluffy tail and would have been perfectly happy to hop in her car with her and go for a ride.
My dog knows more people than I do. A lot more people than I do! She is also more sociable than I am, so that’s probably not all that surprising. But it does amuse me.
Anyway, I think she’s happy that I came home from Florida, but she’s definitely let me know that we should do more Suzanne-level walks. If we walk for a mile, we get home and twenty minutes later she tells me we should be taking another walk. Places to go, people to meet, balls to chase. She’s a busy girl.
I am somewhat less busy. I’ve got a whole long list of things I want to do (which does, of course, start with “write a book”) but I’ve had a really rough time with jet lag from this trip. I don’t know why, because I feel like I should have gotten plenty of recovery sleep by now, but my sleep cycle just got really messed up. I think I’m back on track now, but only to the point of starting to create a to-do list, not to the point of actually getting anything on it done. Oh, but on today’s to-do list: write a blog post. And done!