Now, I admit that there are times when my explanations for not taking a walk are simple rationalizations grounded in nothing more than my slothful disposition; that is not always the case however. Now and again, I actually have a good reason: for example, it’s 11 o'clock at night, the weather channel has notified us that there is a tornado warning in until 3 a.m., moreover, I’m tired from doing 237 pushups. Any rational person would accept these as sufficient reasons to stay put and go to bed; but, of course, Charlie is not a rational person - he is a dog, and not taking a walk is an impossible combination of the 137 words that he recognizes.
It is surprising, with his limited vocabulary, how often Charlie wins these little tete-a-tetes. By way of illustration: some time ago I made it clear to him that we were not going to take a walk because I needed to let off a little steam and that I was going to play ping pong at the club. Besides, I explained that I was losing my competitive edge and I needed the practice so as not to be humiliated when I played the visiting Chinese foreign exchange scholars the following Thursday. You would think after 14 years together he might have a little sympathy, but, no, all I got was this mournful look. I told him in no uncertain terms: "You are not going to win this one pal!" After my emphatic declaration I raced out of the house not looking back into his soulful eyes. So, then, what does my unsympathetic wife do? She lets him out of the house so he can tormentingly follow me to the car and there he is, standing in the driveway with the incredulous look: “What do you mean I can’t come with you.” Hard-hearted fellow that I am I drove off and left him there looking longingly after me. With my conscience nagging me I didn’t last long at the club; after an hour or so I left with the lame excuse that I had to go home and walk my dog. How is it that our pets own us more than we own them?
I had emphatically told Charlie: "Not tonight!" but he just wouldn’t listen. In the end his mastery of non-verbal communication won the day and I had lost once again. I'm sure there must be a life-lesson to be learned in my conversations with Charlie.
Come to think of it, I frequently tell Linda “not tonight; it is too late; I just did 237 pushups and I'm too tired; sorry, I haven’t time to fix the closet light right now; tomorrow I'll clean the garage..." In truth, it seems to me that when I say such things she listens a lot like Charlie. She doesn't appear to understand anything I've said and she has this guilt inducing look that says: “I really expect you to get this done and SOON!” And, not only does she have the "look" but she also knows more than a 137 words to reinforce the "look." At that point I only have one recourse with Linda and that is to say: "Sure, honey, I'll get right on it, as soon as I get back from taking Charlie for a walk."