As I was walking to work, a brindle dog, big black spots mixed with mottled black and grey, trotted towards me. There are plenty of dogs in my neighborhood, most of them kept safely behind fences or indoors. The few I've seen loose usually run from me, or on rare occassions prance around me, barking to 'chase' me from their territory.
This one, however, came straight toward me as if we were old friends. She let me pet her and licked my face as I bent towards her. Then, as I continued up the street, she turned about to accompany me. I chatted at her, asking her where she lived, and where her family was, and how her puppies were doing. She looked like a mother, with pronounced nipples hanging down from her belly. With good cheer, she declined to answer. She wore no collar: "I bet you ditched it when you ran off to see the world, didn't you?" Well-groomed and well-fed, she didn't look a likely candidate for homelessness. She stopped to lick at puddles in the gutter, and look at the envious fenced-in dogs. She ran on ahead of me and then turned back to make sure I was still there, and fell behind me then dashed forward to catch up.
Through several turns, for at least half a mile, she kept me company. She seemed prepared to accompany me all the way to work, but I was unwilling to escort her to the highway. As we reached the parking lot of a small plaza next to the highway, I got in front of her and turned around. "All right, girl, it's been nice meeting you. Thanks for keeping me company! But you have to go home now. So." I took a deep breath and used my best authoritative voice: "GO HOME. GO!" I pointed back, and somewaht to my surprise, she turned about and trotted off for several yards.
I walked a little ways into the parking lot and glanced over my shoulder to see her following again. I ordered her again "GO." She scampered back. On the third time she started for me, I barked at her, and she finally gave up.
I hadn't really expected that to work. But then again, dogs are very good at reading people. I wonder if she could tell the difference between "I like you, but you cannot follow me any longer" and "I am angry and hate you, get lost"? That might be a lot to ask; it's not as if humans always get that distinction right, even.
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