My dog Haley prances as if she’s important. That doesn’t seem possible for 14 pounds of brown and white beagle-terrier mix with white-booted paws and ear tips that bob along as she prances precisely erect to elevate her truncated view.
She has grand views from the banks of the irrigation canal above the first and ninth fairways of the country club. When she spots movement she charges silently and surprisingly swiftly to clear quail from shrubs and squirrels up trees. Every spot cleared is rechecked the next day. She makes our walk more fun. That’s important for my healing heart
She dozes most of the afternoon on the back of our downstairs couch. One day at 4:00 pm I decided she needed exercise and a greater sense of responsibility. I insisted she accompany me out the back door and up the rocky path to get the mail. She seemed perplexed as she looked from me and back to the quiet neighborhood. When we returned I praised her for helping me and she rushed upstairs to tell Karen what she’d learned.
Every afternoon at four pm she responds. She escorts me to the mailbox and sniffs the air like a canine secret service agent. A few days ago I realized she convinced me no one was hiding in the bushes in the gloaming of the fall day. There never has been, but she’ll tell me if there is any threat as I grow more frail over the next decade. My original spoof of an important task made her more important to me.
She creates self-importance she doesn’t deserve. I called her to help me deposit an envelope one night. We walked beside the house waiting for our movement-sensing light to turn on. Just before it lit up, Haley unexpectedly woofed at it. It obediently turned on. I’m convinced she believes she’s learned to turn it on for our protection.
She’s undeniably important for my bad knee from a sports injury. It stays flexible and pain-free if I get down on the floor and do bicycle kicks every morning. Haley joins me any time my face is lower than hers. She rolls over on her back so I can rub her belly with one hand while kicking. Afterward I nuzzle her with sincere thank-yous. When we’re done she bolts upstairs to tell Karen I’ve done my exercises.
The truth is she often motivates me to do them. When it’s time she puts her paws on my chair urging us to get to work even though I explain to her I have other things I must do, and honestly prefer to do. Her wagging tail and brown eyes remind me it’s fun for her and good for me, so I roll out of my chair onto the floor. While my friends get knee surgeries I don’t feel a need for one.
She’s a wonder. The importance of our relationship to each other is a greater wonder.
She deserves to prance with importance.