What a Dog Knows

Right now, I am sitting at my friend Amanda’s kitchen table. She and I left the DC Metro at approximately the same time. In July 2019, she moved to Arizona. In August 2019, I moved to Atlanta.

The last time I saw her was Labor Day of 2019. Since that visit, Amanda lost Toby, her dog/soulmate. Toby had cancer and Amanda knew it was time for her to separate from the pack, but it was still so hard.

Amanda grieved for a number of months and is still grieving, but eventually she was ready to open her home to a new set of paws. Enter Lupe, the chihuahua with a heart of gold.

Lupe was a rescue whose puppies had all been adopted before she met Amanda. I found her to be a dog with the most gentle and loving spirt, and a dog appreciative of any attention you want to give her, but rarely demanding. The main exception of course is if she thinks food is around, but that’s common for any dog who grew up as a stray.

I would like to say that since I met Lupe on Saturday, she has taken a particular shine to me. I can’t say that because 1) I think she takes a shine to everyone, and 2) I upset her this morning.

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, which is 7:30 back in Atlanta. Since I fly home this afternoon, I thought I might as well get up. Lupe was up too. Amanda staggered out of bed about a quarter to five, gave Lupe breakfast, and then went back to sleep.

I took Lupe outside for a short walk. I gave her some pets and cuddles. Then I set her down on her ottoman and went back in Amanda’s guest room to start packing.

I didn’t check my bag on the way here, but I’m going to check it on the way back. There was much sorting a rearranging to be done, and many decisions to be made.

Did I need to take all my medicines in my backpack? Should I put this really long charging cable in the checked bag? Would I need my toothpaste before we leave for the airport?

It can take me a long time to make minor decisions, especially if I have lots of time to ponder them. Sometimes I sweat the small stuff—literally. I couldn’t decide what to do with my tiny bottles of liquid, and I had to grab a mini scrunchie to stop my hair from sticking to my neck while I thought about it.

Finally, I decided I would check most of my them but that I wanted to put my hand cream, lip balm, and hand sanitizer in my backpack. I realized I needed another plastic bag to get these three items through security, so I went to look for one.

Amanda was still asleep, and I knew her well enough to know that she would rather I rummage through her kitchen than wake her up or put off getting myself organized.

Lupe was napping on the ottoman in the living room. I was in the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets and drawers. I did it softly, but I guess I woke her up because on the third closure, I heard this sort of soft growly bark—sort of a “Grr…ruff!

It was the first time I had heard her bark.

“I’m sorry, Lupe,” I said, “it’s just me.”

She did it again. “Grrr..ruff!”

“Hey, I’m just looking for a plastic bag. It’s okay.”

I took a step closer.

“Grrrrrrrrrr——RUFF!” That time she meant business. I took two steps back.

“Lupe,” I said. “What is up?”

She didn’t bark, but eyed me mistrustfully.

“I’m the same person who—-“

And then I had a thought. I reached up and pulled the scrunchie out of my hair. The hair fell down on my shoulders and I shook it out.

She watched me, and I swear to you, her eyes widened.

“See,” I said. “You know me.”

She was still a little tense. I approached her cautiously, and when she didn’t growl or bark, I held out my hands for her to sniff. Once she had done that, she relaxed half way. Very slowly, I moved to pet her head. She permitted it, and then leaned into it. She closed her eyes and put her head down.

When I took my hand away, she was asleep.

I gave up on finding a sandwich bag, and grabbed a Target bag from the lowest cabinet. I went back into the guest room.

When I returned to the living area, I made sure that my hair was down. Lupe was awake. She didn’t growl or bark, but she kept her distance and is still staying close to Amanda.

I don’t blame her. She doesn’t know what other tricks I might attempt.

A Skeptical Lupe

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