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I kicked my shoes off and lifted Harold, my Afghan hound, from his wheelchair and carried him into the pond. I told him not to move; he had to stay close to shore where he could sit on the bottom and keep his head out of the water. Then I waded in up to my armpits. I felt something sharp jab my instep. I held my breath as I carefully reached down and came up with a broken bottle. If this had been closer to shore, Harold might have cut his paw on it! Harold! Oh God! I'd forgot about Harold! I looked over to the far side of the pond and I couldn’t see his head sticking out of the water. I hurriedly waded back to where Harold was. All that was visible above the water was his nose! I yanked him out of the water, carried him to shore and set him in his wheel chair, "Harold, you scared the daylights out of me! What was the big idea? You could have drowned!" "The water felt so good around my ears that I hunched down till they were full." Harold explained, giving me a guilty look then violently shaking his head. "Well, I don’t think it’s funny." I replied, trying to look angry. "I'm sorry, Josh. Does this mean that we can't come down here again?" "No, but you must be more careful. I've had you for many years and I don't want to lose you." "I guess I don't want you to loose me either, Josh, you're such a good master, always worrying about me." "Of course." "Do you mind if I confide in you about something?" "You better, or I won't sleep tonight." "I'm afraid I'm getting involved in something I might regret." "Dare I ask what?" I replied reluctantly. "You remember last week when you left me by the fence and that cute Sheltie came over to see me?" he asked. "I recall another dog coming to see you?"
"Oh, Josh. That was not just another dog. That was Cindy." "Oh." I replied, sorry I'd been so quick to jump to conclusions. "Tell me more about Cindy. I'm eager to hear what you have to tell." "Oh Josh, I haven't been able to get her of my mind." Harold replied, moving around to get more comfortable in his wheelchair, "She is so beautiful." "Sounds like love at first sight." "I wish I wasn't confined to this darn wheelchair, Josh. I'm afraid romance is not in the cards for me." "You could still build a warm friendship with Cindy." "You wouldn't mind if she came over to visit me?" "Of course not, why should I?" "I thought you might not want her in the house." "Don't be ridiculous. But what about her owner, what would he say about it?" "It's a she, not a he, Josh. It's. Her name is Cathy." "Well! Seems like you and Cindy talked about a lot of things. Did she tell you any other news you'd like to download on me?" "Only doggy stuff. You wouldn't be interested." "I can’t imagine why." "Josh, I know I shouldn't ask. Do you think we could work on the fence again soon?" The next day I bundled Harold into his chair and we went over to the fence. I had of course repaired it the first time, but I couldn't very well refuse. I pushed his chair close to the fence, and then walked beside the wire pretending to be repairing it. A glance over my shoulder; a brown form bounding through the tall grass, was none other than Cindy. She stood up and placed her paws against the fence, and I had to agree she was a beautiful Sheltie. I felt a deep sorrow for Harold when I looked at him and Cindy talking across the fence. If it hadn't been for that darn wheelchair, Harold would be running along the fence, marking off every post, while he talked to Cindy. I waited a while then slowly walked back to where Harold was talking to Cindy. I didn't want to interrupt so I stopped a ways short and leaned on a fencepost. "Come over here and meet Cindy." Harold said.
I walked over and waited, not knowing if she could talk to me like Harold did, and Harold answered the question for me. "Cindy can't talk to you like I do, but if you reach through the fence, she'll shake hands with you,” he explained. I felt a little stupid, although there was no reason to. A lot of dogs like to shake hands. I reached through the fence and took her extended paw, "Hi, Cindy, I’m glad to meet you." I remarked, with a slight grin. Cindy gave a little bark, and then sat down. I looked at Harold, hoping he'd interpret. "She said she's glad to meet you too." Harold remarked. "Then she must understand what I say, even if can't understand her." "Of course. She's smarter than you are." Harold said, with a teasing look in his eye. I grinned and changed the subject, "I hope you invited her to drop over." "Yes, but you'll have to make a hole in the fence for her where it's not apt to be noticed. Cathy doesn't want her to stray too far from the house." I thought about that a moment. Cathy probably knew Cindy might stray too far if she was allowed to. I looked at Harold for an answer. "No, Josh. She would only sneak over here to see me." "She read my thoughts, didn't she?" I asked. "Of course." "Okay. I'll cut a hole in the fence down by that thicket, then she can come over here anytime she wishes." I said. At that, Cindy turned and left. I watched her bound through the tall grass till she disappeared over the hill. "She had to get home." Harold explained "I suppose she knew Cathy might be worried about her." "Yes, and now that she can come over to see me anytime, she doesn't want to jeopardize that privilege." "I imagine she wouldn't." I replied, walking down to the thicket where I cut a hole in the wire large enough to let Cindy through. Then I took Harold home. I wheeled him into the house, lifted him from his chair, and then gently laid him on his favorite blanket beside the stove. I sat
down at the table, cupping my chin in my hands, reflecting on all that had occurred that afternoon. I glanced over at Harold, by now fast asleep. His paws were twitching, and I knew he was dreaming of running through the tall grass with Cindy. Poor old fellow; now she could visit him anytime she could get away. Early the next morning, Cindy barking on the porch awakened me. I got up and let her in, then looked at Harold to interpret. "Oh Josh, this is bad! Cathy has to go to town this morning and there is no gas in her car. Do you think you can help her?" Harold asked. "Probably. If I can think where there is some" "We still have some in that red can under the bench in the workshop." "How are we going to explain why I brought some gas for her? You tell me that one!" I asked. Harold and Cindy looked at each other, "Just tell her the truth!" Harold said. "She'll think I'm crazy if I tell her the dogs told me her car is out of gas." "Please, Josh. She really has to get to town." Harold pleaded. "Why not. It wouldn't be the first time in my life I've looked stupid. I'll get the gas." I said as I headed out the door and hurried to the workshop. But I must say I was a bit apprehensive about this. I was looking forward to meeting my new neighbor, but this was not the way I envisioned our first meeting. Imagine! Your dog told me you were out of gas! This was going to be some meeting! Cindy trotted along beside me through the tall grass till we came to where Cathy was trying to start her car. I set the gas can down and cleared my throat. She got out of the car and looked at me, then smiled, "Gee, where did you come from?" she asked. "I’m sorry if I startled you, Cathy. I'm Josh. I live just over the hill." I said, pointing in the direction of my house. "Wait. How did you know my name?" "It's a long story. But right now you need to get to town and there is no gas in your tank. I brought you some." I replied, amused at the strange look on her face.
"But how? How did you know I was out of gas?" "Cindy came over a while ago and told Harold, then he told me. She said you really had to get to town. So I brought you some gas." "WHAT!" Cathy exclaimed. "Cindy told Harold, he translated." "Who the heck is Harold?" "My dog. He's an Afghan Hound." "I must be going out of my mind." "Naw, it's nothing of the kind. I'll try to explain." "Please do. I was going to town for groceries. Maybe I should make an appointment with a psychiatrist to see if I'm loosing my marbles!" "You don't have to. You’ve got all your marbles." "You might have trouble convincing me of that. You came over here with gas when I needed it. You know my dog is named Cindy. She told Harold my car was out of gas, and he told you. I give up. Come on, what really happened?" "That's exactly how it happened. You got the whole picture!" I replied, amused at her bewilderment. I also realized it was not going to be easy to explain this so she would understand." "You got the whole picture, you say! What picture?" she asked, with an amazed look on her face, "You expect me to believe Cindy went over to your place, explained to your dog that I was out of gas, then he told you, and that's why you brought me some gas! Look! Josh, or whatever your name is. Oh never mind!" Cathy exclaimed, throwing her hands up. I realized what she was going through, trying to cope with this so I didn't press the subject. I poured the gas into the tank then turned to Cathy, "Okay, see if it'll start." I said. After a few tries, it started. She got out and looked at me then reached in her pocket, but her hand came up empty, "I want to pay you for this but I guess I'll have to do it after I've been to the bank." "Don't worry about it, Cathy. But make sure you fill up when you get to town. There wasn't a lot in that can." "Yeah . . . well . . . thanks. I really appreciate this, even if I can't get a handle on how it happened. Will I see you again?" "Most likely."
Cathy smiled and got in her car, then drove off. While I carried my empty gas can home, Cindy disappeared over the hill. When I got to the house she was sitting on the back porch, waiting for me. Harold, of course was ecstatic when Cindy dashed into the house ahead of me, wagging his tail till it was ready to fall off. Cindy went over and rubbed noses with him, rolled over on the floor, then got up and shook herself. "Cathy was very happy you helped her, Josh." Harold remarked. "Happy but bewildered. It's going to take time to convince her how this came about." "She'll believe you." "I'm not laying heavy odds on it." I replied. "Cindy says she likes you." "Yeah, I like her too. She's a nice Sheltie." "She meant Cathy, Josh" "Oh well, I like Cathy too. I think she's a lovely person." I replied, thinking back to our unusual encounter. "Cindy says Cathy likes tall dark haired men with a bronzed complexion, like yours." Harold interpreted. "Well!" I replied, that being all I could think of to say at the moment. This tidbit of information was something I wasn't expecting. I changed the subject, "How would you two like some lunch?" I asked. Cindy looked at Harold, and then wagged her tail. "She'd love a small lunch, but only very small. She doesn't want to spoil her supper." "Then how about you?" I asked. "I think I'll just have a small lunch too. It would be rude of me to be too hoggish." Harold replied. I opened a tin of dog food, and put a little on two plates for Cindy and Harold. They had just finished it when Cathy pulled into the yard. I went to the door to greet her, Cindy beside me. She got out of the car then stopped a moment and spoke to Cindy, "What are you doing over here? Don't you know you're supposed to stay home?" Cindy put her tail between her legs and started to run home.
"Come back a moment, Cindy, I want to explain to Cathy that I invited you over to visit Harold." I said, softly. Cindy came back and sat down beside me, looking sheepishly at Cathy. "I don't believe this. I can talk to that dog all day; she ignores me, as if I don't exist. " "She hears you, you can be sure of that." I replied. "So you say. Anyway, I called in to pay you for the gas. How much do I owe you?" Cathy asked, changing the subject. "I don't want your money, Cathy. Cindy told Harold that you needed gas, so I brought it over for you. It was no big deal. A little gas isn't worth much." I said, a bit put out by Cathy's inattention to her Sheltie. "Okay, but I wish you'd let me pay for it." "Okay, then pay for it if it makes you happy." I said. I knew I shouldn't be angry with Cathy, but my patience was wearing thin. She just didn't understand, and there didn't seem to be any way I could get through to her. Cindy took off to the thicket while I watched Cathy drive out the gate, then I went in the house to join Harold. I put the can of dog food in the fridge, then sat down and picked up the morning paper. I could see Harold watching me out the corner of his eye. "Why don't you say it instead of looking at me like that." I said. "You know, Josh, you really don't know much about women." "And I suppose you do?" I retorted. "Of course. My race are a proud breed of dog; many women of societal status own an Afghan hound." "I assume that's supposed to tell me something." I replied a little sourly. "Of course! If we didn't understand women, we wouldn't rate; we'd be just another dog." Harold explained. "Yeah, well I have to admit you have a good point, you are a very special dog. Actually I have trouble thinking of you as a dog. You're more like a human being." "I don't consider that much of a compliment." "I don't blame you after the way that silly woman acted. Do you realize she didn't believe a single thing I told her?"
"You mustn't be too hard on her. Give her time, she'll come around the next time something goes wrong and she needs your help." "Which I hope is not for a while." "Oh, Josh. Don't you like that lovely golden hair, those deep blue eyes, and you must admit she has a lovely figure." "For a dog you're quite observant when it comes to women. Is that a special talent I wasn't aware of?" "I may be crippled, but I'm not blind." "No, old friend. You certainly aren't. And when I think about it, I guess I was a little abrupt with Cathy. She can't help it if she doesn't understand. After all, how many dogs talk to people?" I replied, feeling a little stupid about the way I'd acted. I had no sooner made that earthshaking remark than Cindy was barking at the door. I jumped up and opened it; Cindy rushed in to talk to Harold. "Cathy needs your help, Josh. She can't get her seat belt undone, and she has nothing within reach to cut it with. You must go and help her." Harold said. "Sure, do you want to ride over with me, Cindy?" I asked, knowing it would be faster than running across the field. I dashed out to the car and Cindy jumped in beside me. In minutes we were pulled up beside Cathy's car in the driveway. I jumped out and opened her car door; "I'll have you out of there in a few minutes, Cathy. If you have a wrench I can probably undo the belt from the floor.” I said. "This is the second time this has happened. I am not going to put up with this again; just cut it. If you go into the house you'll find a pair of scissors on the dresser in my bedroom; or maybe in the top drawer, I'm not sure." "I'll take Cindy with me, she can show me where they are." I replied, turning on my heel with Cindy close behind me. Cindy led the way to the kitchen, where she placed her paw on the top drawer by the sink. I pulled it open and grabbed the scissors, then rushed outside and cut Cathy free. Cathy climbed out of the car and straightened her dress, then looked at me, "Okay. How did you know?" she asked, her face flushed.
"Cindy came over and told Harold. She said you had nothing within reach to cut the seat belt with." I replied. "And that's it! You expect me to believe all this jazz? My dog tells your dog, he tells you. I'm sorry, Josh. There's no way you'll ever make me believe that." "All right. Try this for size. The scissors weren't in your bedroom, they were in the drawer by the sink." "By the sink! Then how did you find them?" "Cindy showed me were they were." I replied. "Of course. What other tall tale can you cook up to tell me?” "Cathy, I'm sorry if you don't believe me, and the way you're acting, I don't really care. This is twice now that Cindy has rushed over to tell Harold when you needed help. You can't seem to get it through your thick skull that you've got a very smart little Sheltie. You should be thankful she's here to look out for you, seeing you can't seem to stay out of trouble." I said, as I turned and got in my car. I backed the car around, and then roared out of her driveway. I was so mad I could spit. But that was not the end of it. By mid afternoon Cathy showed up on my doorstep, with Cindy beside hers. I opened the door and looked at her a moment, while neither of us spoke. "I know you're probably still angry with me, and I don't blame you. Will you let me apologize?" she asked. "I was pretty rough on you. I should apologize to you." I replied. Won't you come in and meet Harold; he's dying to meet you." "Why would he want to meet me?" "Cindy has told him all about you. He was hoping you'd come over soon. And here you are! Come on in, Cathy, but please excuse the mess. Bachelors aren't always the best of housekeepers." "Don't feel bad, Josh. My house isn't always spotless." Cathy remarked, following Josh into the house. Harold wagged his tail when he saw Cathy; he held out his paw. Cathy looked at him a moment, then turned to Josh. "How come he just lays there, holding out his paw?" "He's crippled, Cathy. He wants to shake hands with you." "You mean he can't even get up?"
"No. That's his wheelchair over there. I try to take him out every day." I replied, my eyes riveted on her face as she stood there looking at Harold. I saw a tear run down her cheek as she took his paw, then leaned down and laid her face against his. "I'm so sorry, Harold. You're such a beautiful dog." "He says he likes you too, Cathy." I said, and then she sat down at the table, across from me. "I still can't come to terms with the way you say he talks to you. I didn't hear him say anything?" "No, you can't hear him. I never used to either, until he got hit by a car and almost died." "You're serious, aren't you? This isn't some kind of a sick joke, is it?" "No, it isn't. Would you like me to prove it to you?" "If you like, but I know now I shouldn't doubt you." I looked at Cindy, and then at Harold, "Harold said Cindy was telling him about the accident you had last year, when you were in the hospital for a week." I said, studying her reaction. "That could be a wild guess." she replied, a bit uneasy. "And you put Cindy in a kennel in the meantime, which didn’t go over that big." "Oh, boy. This is too much." Cathy said, looking at Cindy in wonder. "Then you walked with crutches for a month till the broken bone in your ankle healed." I added. "I'm having an awful time coping with this, Josh. Are you sure you aren't reading my mind?" she asked, very upset. "No, I can assure you I'm not. Harold and I have many long conversations about a lot of things. Very interesting ones, I might add." "Is that why you never got married?" she asked, out of the blue. I looked at her, very surprised at her question,” You mean because I have Harold?" "Yes, I guess I shouldn't have asked, I'm sorry." "You mean women would think me strange, having a conversation with my dog?" "No, Josh. I didn't mean that, although you must admit you're one of a kind."
"You're right about that. It's a very fascinating pastime having a conversation with your dog." I replied, grinning at Cathy. "Do you think I could learn to talk to Cindy?" she asked. "You can try." "Okay. Promise you won't laugh." Cindy came over and placed her paw in her lap. Cathy looked at me. "Just listen to your innermost thoughts, Cathy." "I thought of playing cards just now. Why would I think of that?" she asked. "That's what she was telling you. Cindy told Harold you liked to play cards." I said reaching over for a deck at the end of the table, "Harold and I often play for hours. It's a special game we invented. Would you like me to teach it to you?" "I would like that, Josh." she replied. "Okay. For the first game I'll have Cindy sit across the table. Harold will tell her the moves." I said, dealing the cards face down in front of Cindy. "Then when you get home, you and Cindy can play." Cathy moved her chair beside Cindy and put her arm around her. Cindy pushed the first card forward with her paw while I carefully studied my hand. I played a card, and then Harold gave Cindy a knowing look. Right then I knew I couldn't win but it was fun to try. THE END Just for the record, I had a Sheltie, Rea, for many years. They are so beautiful and intelligent. Jonsig Eirik