She barely lifts her head. Lying on her side, she picks up her head and looks over, following me across the room with just her eyes. She waits patiently as I disappeared into the closet. She waits for me to dress, hoping I choose the right clothes for the occasion. When I return she is still staring across her bed expectantly at the closet door.

If I’m feeling playful, I whisper her name from the closet. A little louder each time. I can hear the thump of her tail against the floor as she realizes what is about to happen. When the excitement is too much for her, she stops the wagging.

I come out in shorts and a t-shirt. Walking clothes. “But wait,” she thinks. These are also the clothes I wear to go running, or to soccer games. What exactly is going to happen here?

Holding the shoes behind my back, I walk to the spot. Yes, a single spot on the bedroom floor, across from her bed. Her eyes widen with anticipation. Finally, I reveal – the walking sneakers – I hold them out in front of me with my left hand and slam them flat against the ground as I sit. The game is up.

She hops out of the bed and lets out a high pitched, squeaky yawn. She gets low on the ground, and pushes at me with her paws. “Is this happening?” she asks.

“Do you?” I say. She rolls over.

My wife, watching the ritual from across the room, laughs.

“Do you want to?” I ask. Her entire body wags.

I lean back casually, putting my weight on my hands flat against the floor behind me. Maybe I’ve changed my mind. I don’t know if I’m up for it anymore.

“Do you want to go for a?” She springs up. She licks my face. There is no way this can be canceled at this point. We have passed the point of no return. I get into a crouch and scratch her fur.

Walk?

She takes off down the stairs like a bolt of lightening, running directly for the door. She hops in place, at least two feet straight in the air, turning just a few degrees each time while I gather her leash and the keys. She is too excited to let me put the leash on. Her entire body wags. I have to focus to get the leash over her shaking head.

Once it’s connected, she turns to the door and stands at attention. Perfectly still. She looks over her shoulder at me and waits patiently for me to open the door. When it opens, her tail raises and she begins to prance across the yard. We’re off.

 

I miss my dog.