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I love the route of my morning walk. Every other house seems to have a dog in the yard.

First, there's my cousin and his wife across the road. Their two mixed-breeds, Sadie and Bentley, are usually in the yard when I start out (and when I finish). I'm not sure which is which--we've never been formally introduced. I have a feeling that Bentley is the brown-and-white collie-looking one that barks the most, and Sadie is the golden-brown retriever-looking one. I like to think they're barking hello at me, but I'm not sure.

The next house down on the west side of the road has a black Labrador. This morning she (I know it's a bitch, because I heard her owner shouting to her once, but I can't recall her name) was chasing an orange road-hockey ball in the yard. The whole attitude was, "OMG, OMG, gotta get the ball, gotta get the BALL," which is, frankly, a general Labrador trait. But it made me smile to see her go.

Two houses down, still on the west side, there's a pair of Rottweilers, an adult and a half-grown pup. Usually I see the adult, if the dogs are out at all. That's the one that barks at me, in a very Rottie way: "I see you, I smell you, stay away!" Rottweilers are a protective breed, very attached to their handlers and usually gentle with them, but they don't like strangers. I know this, so I deliberately ignore the barking and simply keep on the road. I don't speed up; sometimes I slow down, but never look at the dog.

Next door to that is a house with a piebald mixed breed--she looks like she might have some border collie in her. She's the one that tried to follow me home once. I think they've got one of those underground fencing units now, because she doesn't try to follow me, just barks like crazy in the yard. There's also a pair of pugs, one of which ran across the road one morning to greet me. It assaulted my ankles and my knees trying to say hello. I was more worried about it being squashed by traffic, which was fortunately non-existent at the time.

Now, four houses down, on the easterly side of the road, just where I make my turn to come home, there's a new family in an old farmhouse. And one day last week, I was coming along and saw two--TWO--mastiffs in the yard, with their owner. One, a bitch, came gallumphing up the road to meet me. Now, the sight of this creature roughly the size of a Shetland pony with the build of a slimline tank coming at one might turn some people's knees to jelly and/or encourage them to run in the opposite direction. Not so for me. The bitch's whole attitude was, "Hey! Hi, howareyoutoday? Friends??" I was more worried about being slobbered on than being bitten or knocked down. In fact, I said to her, "Go on home, ya great slobbery thing, ya!", laughing as I said it. She did, actually. Then she came back, and I gave her a scritch behind the ears before sending her home again. And yes, there was some slobber on my sleeve afterward. Sadly, I haven't seen the dogs since.

A friend of mine, witnessing an unsecured dog come up to me on a Halifax street, declared that dogs all knew I was their kind of person. I suspect he was right.

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annuala

September 2015

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