Walking down the street this morning I was holding the lead of my dog. We came across a young, happy, lass in her front yard, gardening. We stopped and one of us pulled on the lead with excitement.
‘Come on’, she said, ‘don’t you see – this is an opportunity not to be missed.’
I was urged to follow along, as her ears pricked up and her tail faced the sky, wagging profusely from side to side. She tuned around and looked up at me, as if to ensure herself that I was ‘in on it’.
The enamoured face of the friendly stranger faced mine, as she bent down to pat my dog. ‘Hello.’ she said, smiling, ‘how are you?’ My dog was smiling too, her mouth wide open, her teeth exposed, her fur luminously enlightened as she took in every moment of this new-found joy.
Soon, it was time to accept this perfect stranger as a friend. So she made a decision. As we discussed the magic of the autumn morning, her back legs and her joints, as strong as ever at the age of eight, were decisively advised to make a jumping motion – soft and gentle, though a motion of excitement, to be sure.
With surprise and a sign of true happiness, our new-found friend’s hands moved forward, and pressed against the shoulders of my dog. Then, just as she put all four paws on the ground at once, our friend’s right hand stroked my dog’s back, those rich colours referred to as chocolate-liver gleaming in the sunshine.
Then, a strange thing happened. As if she knew we were about to leave and continue our walk, my dog started to whimper. Not whine, just whimper, the kind of whimper one would expect when one was upset or anxious or frightened or bored. And then it hit me. My dog had made a friend. She was excited to be spending time with someone she knew via her sixth sense to be calm and happy, to be ‘one of hers’.
I am sure the next time we pass by our new-found friend’s house, Kahlua will whimper too, as if to say; ‘where are you – come on out and play’. You see, she has another friend a mile or two down the road just like this. He leaves his garage door open and if he is not in his garage tinkering, Kahlua will whimper, as if to encourage him to appear. Her sixth sense at work again.
It has been said that dogs have an olfactory nerve that tells them whether a person passing by is calm and happy, anxious, frustrated or just plain disagreeable. I’m sure Kahlua has just such a sixth sense. My chocolate-liver labrador is one smart girl.