Just before dawn, the sun still hidden behind the trees, hills and homes to the east, and the sky paling to light blue, orange and white. The crescent moon and one star, actually it was probably the planet Venus, were barely visible in the western sky. We turned right a couple of minutes earlier and were now approaching the next right turn. Rosie pranced along the sidewalk while I followed keeping up with long strides. I am shorter that I was a couple of decades before but luckily still have long legs. She likes to keep the leash taught to be sure I am still there. I always try to keep the leash slack so she will look back and up at me every few steps, just to be sure. She is so damn cute.
I tell her that if she keeps turning around she may run into a sign post, not sure if she knows what a sign post is, or even if we have any here in our neighborhood, but I warn her anyway.
She stops next to a full, dark green bush with bright red flowers or leaves. I am not sure which they are.
“George,” she says.
“Who is George?”
“The dog who peed on this pretty bush.”
“How do you know the bush is pretty and that the dogs name is George? You only see in monochrome and you don’t know any of the neighborhood dogs.”
“I know its pretty because you said so the other day. You were telling the truth, weren’t you?”
Indignantly, I said, “Yes, I was telling the truth, the bush is pretty, but how do you know the dog’s name?”
“Because George peed here.”
“I know you smell a dog but how do you know his name isn’t Fido or something.”
“Fido? Really, Dad? Have you ever known a real dog named Fido?”
“Well no, but how do you know this dogs name is George.”
“Because I call him George. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows naming something helps define it.”
“Wait just a minute. I think I was just insulted, anyway, isn’t modicum a pretty big word for a dog to be using? Where did you ever learn that word.”
“Oh? Did I use ‘modicum’ wrong? Like ‘modicum of truth’ or ‘modicum of honesty’ or ‘modicum of integrity’?”
“No, your use was perfect. I was just surprised. Where did you hear that word.”
“I heard it on those boring Sunday news shows you insist on watching every week.”
“But you sleep in bed on the other side of the house while I watch my shows. How could you hear it from so far away?”
“I am a dog, Dad. I don’t suffer all the limitations of humans.”
I raised my left hand and wiggled my thumb.
Rosie glared at me, snorted and turned away, prancing down the sidewalk.
Believing I had won the argument I strode briskly along behind her, keeping some slack in the leash, humming “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” quietly to myself.
Before long she stopped at another bush. This one was not so full and not so pretty. It was very branchy with few leaves and no flowers. Maybe it is a later blooming bush.
“Bitch,” she said.
“Hey, hey, hey,” I scolded. “That’s not nice. Unless the dog who was here was female.”
“Well, she is female, and a bitch.”
“Excuse me. Are you using that word as a noun or an adjective. There is a big difference you know.”
“Dad. I know the different parts of speech and when to use the proper one. This dog is a bitch. She attacked me last year.”
“Rosie. She didn’t attack you. She was running to play with you. She had just slipped her leash, like you do sometimes and just kept running towards you.”
“Yeah. I always play with my teeth bared and a snarl. That’s a great way to make friends.”
“She is an old, nearly blind Cocker Spaniel, with rounded teeth. You should have tried to be nice.”
“Yeah? Try being nice when someone has your lip in her ‘round’ teeth. It hurts.”
“It’s been six months. Let it go.”
“Sure, Dad. You are right, as usual. Consider it gone.”
“Good. Two more right turns then up the hill then we will be home and you can go back to bed.”
I take the lead, with the slack leash behind me. Rosie is walking directly behind me so I don’t know which hand to hold the leash. She knows I hate that.
Under her breath, I hear and decide to ignore, “Bitch.”
All square after one lap around the block.