Creatures of habit


“Our hope for years to come.” 

A tail thump wakes me, a wet nose brushes my cheek. Somewhere along the way I might have thought I’d go gentle into that good night, but I’ve had some four-legged friends who think otherwise.

Creatures of habit, both my dogs seem to have a built-in alarm clock. Roo Roo and Petey Poo take turns sleeping with me. We tried all of us bedding down a few times, but there was constant sniffing, scratching and territory claiming. The two of them don’t sit well together. Last night it had been Petey Poo’s turn to hunker down in my bed.

I check the clock. 6:03. Time to rock and roll.

Every Sunday morning there is a routine I seldom vary from. First, dogs out, then a quick cup of coffee. While I sip the java I pick up a book, Northminster Baptist Church, that has names and pictures of our congregation. Starting with our minister Chuck Poole and his wife Marsha, I find myself doing a review of our congregation members twice every Sunday morning before I go to church. For some unknown reason, nowadays I seem to get lots of names wrong, some of them even close kin. And calling Kiera, Addie-Belle, and Katlyn, Katie Bug, doesn’t always sit too well with the family.

Done with the first look-see of the church directory, it’s time to hook the Roo Roo for an early morning walk.

Rescue Roo has eyelashes, and the little lady knows how to flutter and flirt.

I look into her expecting, longing eyes. “You’re a lucky dog,” I say tightening her leash. She bats her lashes at me as if to say, “You’re a lucky lady.”

Bottom line for me, I don’t want to let her down.

The dog leashed, she and I leave the house and begin a fast curbside walk from our Gleneagles gate down Old Canton Road. We’re heading to Saint Andrews Drive, which winds through the Jackson Country Club. We’ve only gone a short way on Old Canton before I have to step around what looks like car fenders, busted windows or parts of a door frame. Maybe somebody had a little too much to drink last night and had a fender bender, I think. The Roo and I go around these pieces very carefully.

“Our defense is sure.”

A policeman passing in his car and I give our morning hand wave to each other. I pat Nervous Nelly, the cellphone in my pocket. I don’t think any kidnapper would ever be interested in us, but if we have some kind of doggie accident someday, mayhaps, my policeman friend will turn around if I need him.

Turning onto St. Andrews, going toward security, I be sure to sing out, “Good morning,” to the guard. Without meaning to, Roo Roo and I have sneaked up on him a few times so I’ve found this is a smart thing to do. Warn security-- we’re on the move.

The Roo and I haven’t gone far on Saint Andrews before I see something blue-black alongside the road.

Glory be. It’s a man’s tuxedo jacket, with satin lapels. Carefully, I pick it up. No arm hacked off or other body parts, just a jacket. I swing around and take it to the guard. “Somebody’ ll probably owe a rental shop a hunk of change if they couldn’t find this coat,” I say.

Roo and I retrace our steps. Further down the road she wheels, stops and drops her nose into a patch of weeds, a sign she’s found something of interest. I spot a glittery shoe. Just one shoe, and the heel looks broken. I decide not to pick that up and carry it back to the guard house. Might have a little foot sweat on it.

“And turn to earth again.”

Back on track, Roo Roo’s in her zone now, sniffing and walking. Then she spies a familiar face. Standing in her driveway is my long-time friend, going back to the first grade at Duling School, Martha Marley, holding her Shih Tzu, Mattie. Martha and I both think Little Mattie has a built in clock in her psyche telling her when to go to the back door and be let out. Come early morning she knows it’s time for the bend and sniff greeting between her and Roo Roo.

Knowing the Roo would love to play rough and tumble with the little lady, I command a ‘Sit.’ This order she usually minds—but it doesn’t always last.

As the four of us visit, Roo Roo’s head swings around, her ears stand at attention and her body stiffens like she’s posing for a picture.

I tighten the leash. “You’re a good doggy. So mind now,” I say.

There is a pattern here that goes back several years as another friend, Karen Spencer joins us. My wenchess wants to barrel forward and leap into this lovely ladies arms, maybe even go home with her. “Behave yourself, Roo,” I command.

Roo’s body is is a tremble, but she contains herself.

Karen pets and strokes Roo, then she moves away.

I brace. Roo springs. Front legs hit Karen’s chest. She reels backward.

I spread my legs and plant my feet to keep from falling.

“I’m sorry.” Roo Roo and I step away and regroup. I tighten the leather line for another possible lovers leap.

“Nothing new. Same song, second verse. We know what to expect.” Karen steadies herself, wiping muddy paw prints from her shirt. “Take care of the wild child,” she laughs, backing away.

Ready to move on to another adventure, the little flirt flicks her eyelashes and jerks forward. “Believe me if all those endearing young charms-’ I think, but don’t say out loud. It sounds wonky.

“See y’all tomorrow,” Martha calls.

We’re on the road again. Roo Roo and I take up where we left off, picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down. 

Hopefully there’ll be time for the rest of our every Sunday morning routine. Take a quick bath. Pour another cuppa coffee and have enough minutes left to go through the church names and faces--one more time.


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