My dog has learned to spell. Well, to clarify, my dog now recognizes when I’m spelling one of “her words” rather than saying it. It does me no good now to spell D-I-N-N-E-R to avoid the bouncing and woofing that follows the mere utterance of the word. Saying it or spelling it sends Roxie into orbit.

On a recent Saturday afternoon after digging holes and planting flowers all day, I laid on the couch for a much needed break from dirt work. Roxie sat down in front of me and launched her campaign for us to take our customary afternoon walk. At first, she is six feet from the couch, sitting quietly, just staring at me.  If the subtle approach is unsuccessful, she begins phase two of the campaign by repositioning herself closer to the couch, audibly yawning a few times, and throwing in the slightest of whimpers just to make sure I know the time to walk is approaching.

On this particular Saturday, I’m really tired. My body is sinking into the couch and I’m thinking nap time may replace a doggie walk on the household agenda. Just as I am nodding off, Roxie scooches next to the couch and roots her nose under my cushion tossing my head to the side. The idea of scratching a doggie walk from the afternoon agenda was obviously not a unanimous decision.

Thinking my inquiry was stealth and not really addressing anyone or any animal in particular, I mumbled the words “do we really have to take a W-A-L-K today?” Roxie reaches def-com phase four, bouncing, barking, scratching-off on the hardwood floor, running toward the leash closet. It was not time to rest my aging gardener bones; it was W-A-L-K time! I grabbed a few treats, an empty Kroger bag, and attached the leash to my spastic friend.

What is this fascination dogs have about sniffing where every dog before them has been? As soon as we arrive at the trail, Roxie is stretching her leash (and my arm) to get to the first post to “acquaint” herself with dogs past. It seems to be a bigger draw for Roxie than the “fresh dogs” on the trail.

As we make our way through Medlock Park and across Willivee Drive to the boardwalk, I realize from her perspective, a walk along the trail on a beautiful spring afternoon trumps watching me sleep on the couch anytime. She gets to sniff a dozen posts, greet a variety of other dogs, and get rubbed by scores of trail walkers as we make our way to the end of the trail. She was in Labrador heaven as she pranced down the trail eagerly anticipating the next encounter.  From my perspective, I made a new friend or two, got a little exercise, and arrived back to the house with a happy dog, content to lie in front of the couch and take a nap with me.  Soon it would be time for D-I-N-N-E-R, but for now everyone was content to get a little rest and reflect on a fun W-A-L-K.

Roxie is so smart. Did I tell you she can spell?