I take Kaley, our son’s fifty-pound mixed-breed dog, to the park each morning after everyone else leaves the house. She knows the pattern. Her excitement builds as I gather the leash, the Frisbee, the poop bags, all of the accoutrements required for walking a dog in the neighborhood. Her tail wags at a blurring speed as she paces before me. She offers her best doggy smile while impatiently waiting at the door.
If, for some reason, we don’t go at the designated time, (sometimes it’s difficult, due to my arthritis/tendonitis flare-ups) she walks to the closet where most of the things are stored, and gives a small whine. “Later,” I tell her. She drops her head and shuffles to the dog bed near the table, staring at me with forlorn eyes.
After a few minutes of that, she’ll come over, nudge my leg, and prance to the door, as if I’d forgotten to do something. “Later,” I tell her again. Once again, she drops her head and shuffles to her bed. I swear, the animal pouts. When I get up, she runs around my feet, hoping the time had come. This will go on until my medicine kicks in and I can take her to the park.
Today, she surprised me.
The arthritic pain in both of my wrists had been building for the last several months. Yesterday afternoon, I went to my doctor and received cortisone shots in each. I’ll tell you, if you’ve been blessed to never have one, it is painful.
This morning, I can barely lift my coffee mug. There was no way I’d be able to hold back a fifty-pound dog with a leash if she chose to bolt. However, I hated the thought of having to scold her for getting under my feet because I hadn’t taken her for our walk.
My husband left for work. Kaley began to prance. My heart ached. I bent over to pet her. She jerked her head back as if startled. Her cold nose pressed against my right wrist. She inhaled deeply. Then she sniffed rapidly up my arm as far as she could reach.
Then, she looked at me, and I swear, there was sympathy in that expression. She rubbed her head against my leg, went to her dog bed, stretched out, and closed her eyes.
Kaley knows I can’t take her for a walk today.
Two hours later she has still not employed her usual practice of “reminding” me of our missed walk.
Dogs just know.