DIANE MAKAR MURPHY From the ghostly to the concrete, dog takes it all in
Monday saw a late-afternoon storm that floated a big cloud in front of the sun and squeezed the humidity from the air. This meant one thing: time to walk my dog.
Zeke is 20 pounds of skin, bones, blood and muscle and an additional 25 pounds of hair. Most summer walks (and mind you, I take him early), I drag him from one green, shady lawn to another, where he repeatedly collapses.
Sometimes I squat beside him, appreciating that a big hairball with a single sweating tongue is at a horrible disadvantage. Sometimes I beg him to get up and walk before it gets hotter. Often, I simply drag him past the soft green lawn to a brown, prickly one like ours, and he no longer wants to lie down. Then I take him out later, around midnight.
Anyway, this was no such day. The sun hid behind fluffy gray clouds, and a cool breeze tossed the low temperature around. Zeke heeled respectably and even drew an "Isn't he well-behaved!" remark from a lady. I was quite pleased until, a half-block later, he plopped down in the middle of the intersection and refused to budge.
No cars were around, but a cyclist pedaled by and said, "Not a good place."
The soft, moist grass makes sense, but the middle of an intersection on a cool day? I should have guessed. It's not easy to understand Zeke, particularly on walks.
One recent night, he refused to leave the sidewalk going south from our house on its corner lot. He stopped moving as though he were glued there, with his feet dug into the concrete. Fearing a raccoon might be in the bushes, I readily did an about-face.
We went around to the other side of the house and followed the sidewalk to the eastern boundary of our property. Zeke again planted his feet like a dog being dragged to his bath.
I had one more chance. I turned around again, went to the corner of our property and headed north across the street. THIS was OK with Zeke. Don't ask me why.
On another walk very late one evening, Zeke started watching things that weren't there. I'm not much into the supernatural, but the thought did pop into my head that dogs have a sixth sense and can see spirits. (Did I read that somewhere reputable? Probably not, but it did pop into my head.)
So there we were, with Zeke watching something I couldn't see. Finally, he sat down, refused to budge and stared at the middle of the empty street. His head turned a sharp left and then tilted upward as if watching something going slowly up to the telephone lines. Then he stared at one spot on the wire, motionless, enrapt.
The hairs on my neck came to attention like dominoes in reverse. I screamed, "Let's go!" and let out up the previously quiet street with such ferocity that I nearly did a belly slam onto my neighbor's sidewalk.
At that point, Zeke took the lead and yanked us both to the top of the block. It's OK, though. We got away from ... well, we got away.
Zeke is often inspirational like that. On some nighttime walks, he constantly looks back over his shoulders. This would make any woman walking alone in the dark nervous.
Maybe you recall, as I do, a scene from a black-and-white werewolf movie in which a woman walks down an empty street. The creature lopes from tree to tree behind her. She senses it; she hurries. He hurries. She hurries more. The music swells. I get to relive this scene over and over again with Zeke.
At any rate, on our cool summer walk, Zeke plopped into another intersection and had to be dragged out of it. I have no idea what it means. It is not a response to heat and humidity; it is not caused by Zeke's ability to "see dead people" (said with a Haley Joel Osment whisper), and it definitely wasn't because a werewolf was following us ... I hope.
Zeke has a vocabulary of about 30 human words, but I remain completely in the dark when it comes to understanding him.