My dog is giving me sad eyes. He wants to go out for a walk, but the sky is like lead and the temperature has dropped so far I’m wearing jeans and a winter sweater instead of my usual summer attire. My flip-flops are discarded, and I even have socks on – and meanwhile, rain patters on the sidewalk and thunder growls somewhere in the distance. And still I get the sad-eyed look from my dog, who seems to reproach me for not donning boots and raincoat and splashing out for an adventure. He’ll win, eventually.  He knows how to communicate. Dogs may be limited to barks, whines and growls – they can make themselves understood. This morning, I was awoken by his “I’m hungry! Wake up and feed me!” whine. It’s annoying, and yet, when I get up and glare at him, he wags his tail so hard it’s hard to remember why I’m cross. He spins in a happy circle, making me laugh, and leads the way to his bowl – pointing with his nose to make sure I’ve gotten the message. After he eats, he likes to nap for a while, preferably on the balcony when weather permits. Then it’s the next round of signals. He’ll come over to me and look at me expectantly. I’m supposed to stop whatever I’m doing and go get the leash. If I don’t, he’ll whine at me – (not the “I’m hungry” whine, it’s more of a “Hey! I have to go pee!”) If I don’t understand, he’ll go to the door and look back, making eye contact with me, and making it clear he wants out. Once outside, his signals are different – he’s at the end of a leash, so we have to agree on our route. If he’s not happy, he’ll duck his head down and plant his feet – bringing us both to a screeching halt. Then he’ll look up and point his nose towards where he wants to go. It’s my decision – and if I need to go the opposite way (bakery – post office…) I have to explain. Otherwise he won’t budge. Oddly enough, if I tell him, “Look, Auguste, I have to post this letter. We’ll go by the park, OK?” He’ll usually perk up and trot ahead. If I just drag him along, he’ll sulk for the whole walk – and there is nothing as silly-looking as a sulky dachshund being dragged along with his leash. After our walk, he’s happy to come home, and he’ll usually ask me to play with him for a few minutes. He’ll go to the balcony and bark at me to join him. When I do, he’ll prance and grab one of his water bottles, and pretend he wants me to throw it for him. I say “pretend”, because when I do get it away from him, he’s terrified I’ll throw it off the balcony (by accident – it’s happened – I’m not very coordinated). But he pretends he wants me to toss it, so I do, and he dashes after it, and then he goes and hides behind a plant so I can’t get his precious bottle. Right now, he’s curled up on his bed, and he’s unhappy because there is some thunder outside (he doesn’t like it) and I won’t take him for a walk. (We went this morning). He’s also waiting for Julia to come so we can go to the stables (after the rain passes, we’ll go this afternoon) and then he’ll be the most excited dog on the planet – whirling in circles in the hallway, sometimes barking (he so rarely barks it seems to surprise him as much as us), and running back and forth to make sure we hurry. Here’s what Julia does. She stops and hides behind the corner. Auguste runs ahead, turns back, sees no one following, and comes rushing back to find us. Julia pops out with a “Boo!“, and August jumps ( one of these days she’ll give him a heart attack and we’ll have to resuscitate him), and then he tilts his head as if to say “Will you stop fooling around? Life is serious – and much too short!” And he’s right. He’s already 12, and we almost lost him once. Life is far too short – especially for dogs. So as soon as it stops raining, you can imagine us heading for the door – off to splash through some puddles!

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