A Dog's Intuition
Add: 30 June 2016 / 00:00
I had felt some tugging on the leash but was distracted by the presentation at the Buddies of Canines meet. There were dozens of dogs and owners at the fairgrounds. There were exhibitors, too. Under tents there were breed-specific rescue groups, dog food companies, grooming accessory vendors, animal health insurers and providers, and assorted other groups, some altruistic, others there for profit. The display that had my full attention was that of a food company extolling the benefits of a dog food rich in glucosamine and chondroitin. I was especially interested because my dog, a full-grown German Shepherd, was susceptible to hip dysplasia. I had turned around to see her happily wagging her tail. She was looking up at a man that was smiling back at her.
“Thank you,” I said, surprised at her behavior. Duchess wasn’t friendly toward strangers, especially men. She was fiercely protective of me and would not normally allow a man near me. She was a different dog with this man.
“May I,” he asked, his hand held out, palm down, before petting Duchess.
“Oh, yes. Go ahead. She seems to like you.” He slowly offered his hand and let Duchess sniff him. When she was satisfied, he petted her and gently scratched behind her ears. She welcomed his touch with some sounds of contentment. He crouched down and took her face in his hands.
“You’re a pretty girl,” he cooed as if talking to a child. Duchess was savoring his attention. He petted her full body and took her in a hug, something she would never allow a stranger to do. Her tail kept wagging and she turned to look at me, smiling broadly, happy to show me her new friend.
He finally stood, with the fingertips of his left hand remaining buried in the fur on Duchess’s neck. He turned his attention to me. “She’s such a good dog.”
“She is. She has never greeted a stranger with such enthusiasm before.”
“Dogs and little girls,” he explained. “That’s who love me, dogs and little girls. The big girls, not so much,” he added with a slight shrug and toss of his head to the side, a look of humility on his face.
He wasn’t bad looking. He stood just less than six feet. He was dressed for an outing with dogs. He wore a flannel shirt and a leather vest accompanied by blue jeans and hiking boots. He sported a cowboy hat that appeared to come straight from Texas. He looked as if he kept himself fit, although I couldn’t discern more of his physique due to the outdoorsman clothing. His hands were a man’s hands, and the hand in Duchess’s fur bore no ring.
He extended his right hand to me. “My name is Matt,” he said, gently shaking my hand.
“I’m Katie,” I replied.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Katie. And what’s your name, pretty girl?” he asked, turning back to Duchess.
“Hello, Duchess,” he said to her. Her tail became active again.
“Do you own a dog, Matt?”
“I used to. She’s in doggie heaven now.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Thank you. She was a good girl and I gave her a good life. I took her in as a rescue. She was a cross between a Siberian Husky and a German Shepherd. She was all bone and muscle. She was so easy to live with. Never defiant, never destroyed anything, never made a mess, never bit anyone. The only time I ever saw her bare her fangs was at another dog that nipped her. She chased him down, tackled him, put him on his back, and put her teeth on his throat. She could have killed him then and there. He almost died of fright. He never crossed her again. Smart? I’m convinced she wasn’t a dog at all but was a human trapped inside a dog’s body.”
It was obvious he wanted to talk about her. “It seems like you miss her. How long has she been gone?”
“Six years and three months. I still think of her every day.”
“Have you considered getting another dog? There are plenty to be rescued.”
“As much as I love dogs, I don’t want to be tied down to one again.”
“I can understand that. They do tie you down.” We talked a while longer about the dog meet and the other dogs there.
“I’m going to walk around a bit, Matt. It was nice meeting you,” I said.
“Nice meeting you, too, Katie.” He gave Duchess a hug and we meandered off.
Some half hour later Duchess and I were wandering around the fairgrounds when we came upon some sort of dog costume show. It was for goofy owners and their dogs. A crowd stood around gawking at this display of silliness. I was looking at a terrier with a cartoon movie character doll perched on its back when Duchess gave me a robust pull to the left, dragging me several steps, almost pulling me off my feet. She gave Matt, whom I hadn’t noticed in the crowd, a stout nudge in his crack with her nose. He jumped as if shocked by a stun gun and turned around, astounded with eyes wide.
“Duchess? Is that you?” he asked. Her tail came alive. I was so embarrassed.
“I’m sorry, Matt,” I said, red-faced.
“It’s okay from Duchess,” he said, looking at her. He crouched down to pet her and held her face in his hands. “It’s some ridiculous contest,” he explained to her in a whisper purposely loud enough for me to hear, too. “You’d win easily because you’re so pretty.” With that, he put her cheek against his. She loved it.
Matt stood and we watched this inane spectacle a few moments longer. Thoroughly uninterested in it, the three of us strolled off.
“Can I hold Duchess’s leash, Katie?”
“Well, I guess it’s alright.” I handed the leash to Matt. Duchess sensed this right away and turned to look at the leash in Matt’s hand, and then at me.
“Is this okay, Baby?” asked Matt comfortingly. Duchess accepted it and resumed walking in front of us. Matt turned to me.
“It’s been so long since I’ve walked a dog. It feels good.” We wandered around the fairgrounds together at a relaxed pace. A relaxed pace was not Duchess’s forte. When I walked her she always kept tension on the leash, but in Matt’s hands she was perfectly calm and didn’t pull on the leash at all. He seemed to have a knack with her.
The meet was winding down and some of the exhibitors were packing up. We ended our walk at my car and Matt handed Duchess off to me. We talked a bit longer. “Can I call on you sometime, Katie?”
I had been away from the dating scene for a long time for personal reasons. Men were attracted to me but I could no longer bear the hurt that came with dead end relationships. I generally avoided men and turned them down with the lie that I was already taken. I wasn’t and didn’t care to be, but Matt had a certain charm and Duchess had judged him as trustworthy.
“I’d like that,” I heard myself reply. We exchanged phone numbers and Matt called me that very evening. He told me he enjoyed my company and thanked me for a wonderful afternoon. What a gentleman. We arranged for a date the next weekend. Before he rang off he asked me to hug Duchess for him. I did.
The week passed slowly but Friday finally arrived. Matt rang my doorbell at precisely seven o’clock. Duchess barked and Matt spoke to her through the door.
“Duchess, it’s me, Matt.” I opened the door and, of course, Duchess was trying to squeeze past me. I invited Matt in. Duchess, my chief security officer, assumed her guard dog stance to protect me. Her antipathy toward men was a reflection of my own attitude. I don’t think she remembered Matt from last Sunday and was wary of him. He spoke to her again and she slowly warmed as she recalled him. He extended his hand and pet her before stepping in. “Okay now?” he asked. It was; she allowed his entry.
Matt turned to me and froze. He slowly looked me up and down, a look of awe on his face, his mouth agape. “Oh my heavens! You’re beautiful, Katie.” I don’t think he was being mendacious; he really meant it. Normally I’d be offended at the overt leer, but from Matt it was nice. After all, I had left work early to stop at the salon to have my hair and nails done. I had also bought new pumps during the week and was wearing a dress that was somewhat revealing. I donned my best jewelry. My earrings matched my cultured pearl necklace. I even wore my silver and pearl brooch as I hadn’t had reason to dress up for a social occasion in quite a while. So I figured I’d pull out all the stops. I was delighted that Matt noticed and made a fuss. He made me feel desirable.
Matt was dressed resplendently. He sported a jacket and tie with a matching pocket square, a crisp button shirt, pleated wool pants with a sharp crease, and shoes with a shine. He was clean shaven. A Swiss watch adorned his wrist. Needless to say, he left the cowboy hat at home. He exuded a demeanor of relaxed confidence. It occurred to me that he had a build that would allow him to look good no matter what he wore.
“Thank you,” I replied, my ego swelling. “You look nice too.”
“Thanks.” He turned back to Duchess. “I won’t get her home too late,” he said in that loud whisper. He escorted me to his late-model sedan and held the door for me. We made a fine looking couple. I hoped the neighbors were watching.
We went to a posh restaurant where the lights were low and conversation was carried on in subdued tones. Matt somehow seemed more mature in this environment. He had chosen a restaurant where there were no patrons under forty years old. The prices on the menu precluded families with children dining there. It was comfortable and relaxed. I was pleased to see Matt display a level of sophistication about food and wine. He ordered the chateaubriand and me the grilled lamb chops. The sommelier suggested an ancient-vine zinfandel to complement our choices. Matt differed with this recommendation.
“Let’s do a Mourvedre instead. Its higher tannin and lower acidity is better suited to the umami in the meats.”
“Of course, sir,” he replied, dropping his eyes. “An excellent selection.” I know the sommelier is supposed to commend the customer’s choice, but his facial expression revealed slight embarrassment that he was actually upstaged by a better suggestion from a client.
On our table was a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and one of balsamic vinegar. Matt mixed the two in a small bowl. “How did you come to own Duchess?” Matt asked as he blended the oil and vinegar.
“My co-worker friend bought her as a puppy. She’s actually from Germany. I have the breeder’s papers. They’re in German. My friend’s nine-year-old son wanted a dog, a German Shepard no less. So, of course, Mommy said yes and bought the dog, even though Daddy didn’t want a dog. She paid thousands. After two months they came to the realization that they were too busy to own and train a puppy, especially one that would grow to ninety pounds. They offered her to me and I accepted. She was up to date on all shots and had all accessories, toys, bowls, a bed, everything. They wouldn’t take a penny for her; they were just glad to find her a good home.”
“You rescued her. She could have ended up in the pound,” he suggested as he placed a piece of stone-ground wheat bread on my plate. He dipped his bread in the mixture.
“She’s pure bred; she’d have landed on her paws. But imagine buying a nine-year-old child a big, strong dog like Duchess? Absurd.” I dipped my bread, too. “This is good. And it’s healthier than butter,” I added.
“Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat and increases your HDL cholesterol level. It’s good for you,” he agreed. “And the vinegar is good for your blood pressure and glucose levels. It reduces your LDL cholesterol, too.”
Our date continued and I began to feel very relaxed with Matt. He seemed like a guy who could be just as comfortable at a tractor pull with a beer in his hand as in the executive board room. When the waiter brought my lamb chops they were slightly undercooked.
“We’ll send them back,” Matt said.
“No, it’s alright.”
Matt got the waiter’s attention and instructed him to have the chef cook them for a few more minutes.
“Of course, sir,” the waiter replied. It was nice to have a man look after you and speak up for you. And Matt was the consummate gentleman. When I returned from the ladies room he stood until I took my seat. Men don’t know to do that anymore. Matt did. When we got back to my house I invited him in. Duchess met us at the door and welcomed us.
“I like your décor,” Matt observed, one hand on Duchess.
“Come in. Have a seat,” I said, motioning toward the couch. We sat, talking.
“Is Duchess allowed on the couch?”
“Not on this one, only on the one in the den.” Matt slid off the couch to sit on the floor, leaning back on the front of the sofa. He patted his lap twice while looking at Duchess. She came to him and lay astride his lap, something she would never do with someone who wasn’t a family member. It was astonishing how fast Matt and Duchess had bonded. “Your nice pants will get full of dog hair,” I warned.
“I’ll wear it proudly,” Matt declared, petting Duchess. What a difference. The last guy I dated would hardly touch Duchess. He seemed to think she was a farm animal and kept his distance. I resented that because I’m meticulous about keeping Duchess clean. She didn’t like him either; she never warmed to him and was tense in his presence. I should have heeded her instinct. The relationship was void of affection and went nowhere. Love me, love my dog.
Now here she was, lying there like a princess, looking at me as if to say “Come on! I got him. I’m holding him down for you.” My dog sat in Matt’s lap before I did.
“Would you care to join us?” Matt asked. Indeed I did. I slid down, dress and all, and sat next to Matt and Duchess. We talked easily, petting Duchess, our hands often touching.
It came time for Matt to leave. Duchess lay sleeping in Matt’s lap. “Let me up, Duchess,” he said softly. She seemed to understand every word he said; she instantly got up, yawning. He rose and helped me up, averting his eyes while I fixed my dress. “Can I see you on Sunday afternoon, Katie? A Russian symphony orchestra is on tour and will be performing Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. Shostakovich composed it while the city of Leningrad was under siege. It’s sad and moving, but inspirational and best performed by Russian musicians. Last I checked there were still tickets available.”
“I’d love to. That sounds interesting.”
“I’ll verify availability and call you tomorrow. One more question, Katie.” He hesitated slightly. “Can I kiss you?”
What a nice guy! He’s asking to kiss me. No one had ever done that. “That would be nice.”
Matt took me in his arms and gently held me. He kissed me softly on the lips and squeezed me a bit tighter. He felt wiry and muscular. I liked being pressed against him and made sure I inadvertently rubbed on him. I didn’t want him to leave. He did, though, and called me in the morning. We were on for Sunday.
The symphony was indeed moving. I invited him in again upon our return.
“Can I offer you a glass of wine?” I asked. He accepted and I offered him another when he finished.
He hesitated, looking hopeless. “It’s only fair to inform you, Katie, at this point of our relationship…”
Oh no. Here it comes. He’s going to tell me he’s an alcoholic. I knew this relationship was too good to be true.
“…that if I have more wine I might get fresh with you.” I ran in dramatic fashion to fill his glass. He laughed, waving his hand to stop my pour. “Not too much! That’s plenty!”
Whew! I was anticipating bad news, but instead, I liked the idea. I ended up in his arms again, kissing passionately.
“How is it that such a beautiful woman is not married?” Matt asked, gently stroking my hair. I guess it was time for the talk.
“I was. For three years. We wanted to have children; we got tears instead. I was unable to bear children. My husband left me and married another woman. He has a few kids with her now. I can’t blame him. My fate was sealed, his didn’t have to be,” I explained blankly. “We stayed in touch for a while but I don’t have any contact with him anymore. His new wife made sure of that.” Matt wore a sad look. “Boyfriends didn’t last long,” I further explained. “On the second or third date when I informed them of my plight they would look at me pitifully and I’d never see them again. So I took myself off the market and resolved to be content with Duchess.”
“I’m sorry,” Matt said glumly.
I was, too. Mother Nature had endowed me with the things a man likes, so I never had a problem attracting guys. But it was a waste and became a nuisance. I got tired of explaining my situation and then being left flat. Other women expressed sympathy but then would revert to bragging that their kids were honor students and that everything they did was wonderful. They seemed like incorrigible, selfish brats to me. I got sick of hearing it and withdrew into isolation. I had no interest in men or people in general. I can only imagine what was said behind my back; that I was asexual or anti-social. I didn’t care anymore. My heart had hardened and a sad pall had enveloped me.
“And how about you, Matt, were you ever married?”
“I was, for twenty-two years. I’m a widower now. It makes me feel so old to say that. I lost my wife to cancer two years ago. We… I have two kids, both grown.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you. I can sympathize with your feelings of loneliness. I lost interest in relationships, too.”
These circumstances presented a new situation to me. Matt was a bit older than I, wasn’t interested in having more children, and had no ex-wife to make a pest of herself. This could work. I had become uncomfortable around men due to my predicament. Unable to fulfill the most basic function of nature, that of procreation, I felt totally inadequate as a woman, insignificant in the presence of men. Sex was fruitless and only served as a cruel reminder of my deficiency. I developed an abhorrence toward intimacy and became celibate. I lost interest in everything. In truth, the only reason I wanted to keep living my otherwise empty life was for Duchess.
But dating Matt caused me to see things differently. As our relationship developed with the passage of time, he restored my sense of worth. “Kids aren’t everything,” he explained. “And the inability or lack of desire to bear and raise them does not degrade your dignity as a person or your value as a woman. You’re a beautiful person in your own right, Katie, children or no children. You have so much to offer. You’re sophisticated, compassionate, responsible, generous, and full of love,” he further elucidated. “You deserve a life, to be happy, to love and be loved.”
He was right. Lesser men had abandoned me; it took a real man to explain this to me and set me straight. I had spent too long in despair, repressed by an unrelenting sadness and shame. Matt took my hand and led me out of my darkness and into the sunlight. It was time to heal. It was time to live again. It was time to love again. We became affectionate.
It started slowly as we were both out of practice and feeling our way. Matt was still despondent over his loss and didn’t want to do anything disrespectful to his wife’s memory. I still harbored my feelings of insecurity and my aversion to intimacy. But in time we overcame our pasts and turned forward. Cuddling and kissing became cautious fondling. Matt was the leader here and his spontaneity helped.
Eager to impress Matt with my domestic prowess, I was baking my special oatmeal cookies for us once and had both hands sticky with dough. I needed to move the cookie racks. “Can you help me out, Honey,” I called.
“I’d love to,” he responded enthusiastically. He came up behind me, reached around me and unbuttoned the top buttons on my shirt. He slid his hands into my bra and pulled out one, then the other.
“What are you doing?” I asked, trying to sound mortified.
“I’m helping you out,” he explained, adjusting me so I stood out at attention. “Can I help you out of anything else?”
“Put me back in,” I demanded.
“But Dollface, you asked me to help you out,” he intoned, spinning me around. “Now you’re out. Besides, you look good in the kitchen like that,” he observed, jiggling me. “You shouldn’t even be wearing this when I’m here,” he scolded, adjusting my bra to give me maximum lift. “I’m going to buy you some quarter cup shelf bras,” he promised. “These deserve a position of prominence.” He gave me two kisses, tweaking me for maximum exposure. I tried not to laugh but failed. My hands were too sticky to fix myself so I had to finish with the dough before I could regain decorum.
Once my baking was done we indulged in some sweet treats. The cookies were good, too.
Discretion prohibits me from elaborating further about our private life. Suffice it to say that Matt treats me like no other man has before, my ex-husband included. After twenty-two years of marriage, he knows everything a guy could know about the female body. He knows what a woman wants and how to please her. He’s generous with his affection and thoroughly understands and unfailingly practices the art of “ladies first.” Matt transformed me from unapproachable and frigid to a sensual and eager kitten. He has me trying new things, putting me in positions I never knew existed, making me feel erotic and lewd, but in a wholesome way, all the while securely ensconced in a loving relationship. We were engaged for two months before we married. And to think I had initially walked away from him at the dog fair. It was perhaps the stupidest thing I have ever done. Luckily for me, Duchess was using her keen intuition and introduced me to the love of my life.
© 2016, SoHuggable. All Rights Reserved. This work may not be copied, transmitted, published in any other form, or used in any other way, without the author’s express written permission.