WHAT I CAN HEAR

At six a.m., a mockingbird sings her morning medley from the pomegranate tree. She’s as happy as I am to be awake. If I sing back, you say, Stop Barking! Remember I can hear four times better than you. Lucky me—my long, shaggy, black and white hair protects my sensitive ears. Your ears are open and exposed. I could never be you and you can’t be me.

Oh, dog, it’s another day! It must mean you’re going to put on your delicious shoes and take me for a walk. I spin in circles and jump so high, like Mister Bojangles. Up and down and up higher. I taste your shoes and bring one to you and you say, Drop it! and Thank you! I can’t sit still while you tie your shoes and snap the leash on my collar ring. Oh, hurry! The snap echoes in my ears. I give you my best I Am Your Good Dog look.

As soon as we go outside, I swivel one ear and know exactly, to the blade of grass, where Rachel Rabbit is. You hold the leash very tightly, so she and her family scurry across the damp grass to hide under a bush. If I stand perfectly quiet, so does she. We play Hide and Seek. Who can be stealthier. Yes, I know that word. Remember I have a very good vocabulary. So far, the rabbits are ahead, but I have seen a tail or two, even a hind leg. When I’m lucky, I see whole rabbits. Rachel looks like Easter bunny chocolate, round in the hind end with long ears like mine. You eat their ears, but not mine.

After our walk, we have breakfast. Then I sit outside on the deck and listen and watch. My ears are phenom. Then, I scratch at the door to come inside again to be with you. Uh-oh!! I hear the garbage truck. Did you remember to put out the garbage? If you didn’t, I may squeeze outside the door with you to put the garbage bin on the curb. Oh, dog! I hope you forgot. Then I can go outside to look around and sniff at the trees and the bushes and maybe even see a dog. I may have to run across the street to sniff the dog. That makes you scream in a terrible voice. Oliver! Come! But, I see you are staying in your chair reading the paper. I have to watch you every minute for signs of change. You don’t sit still for very long, so I don’t either.

My favorite sound is piano music. It goes right through my chest to my heart. You know how much I love it because you play for me almost every day. Chopin. Gershwin. Bach.

In the afternoon, the boom-boom! from people’s cars and loud r-r-r-r-r-r! from motorcycles sends vibrations through my entire body. People string long white threads from their ears that fills my ears with noise too. I hear it across the street, through the window, and into our house. I jump up on the window seat and bark. It could mean stranger danger.

Sometimes when long hair grows down inside my ears, I don’t hear as well. You take sharp scissors and snip, snip, snip! Little pieces of hair fall down inside my ears. I shake my head hard to get them out.

At night, while you listen for Daddy driving down the street, I’m already at the door, nose up.

The garage door opens. His VW door opens and slams. He comes in. I ambush him and hug him. He doesn’t mind hugs as much as you do. You always say, Ow! If only you knew how much I love you. I can’t control myself. My paws want to jump on you, knock you down, and hug you some more. Up and down hugs. You’re mine humping hugs. I don’t understand why you don’t like this. You try to yank my collar, but I dodge you every time. I’m fast as lightning.

Oliver’s advice: Try to remember how sensitive I am, especially my ears.

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