I said to someone once, and I can’t remember who: “I have some of the best talks with Rosie that I have with anyone.”
“That’s okay,” the person responded, “as long as she doesn’t talk back.”
Well guess what? In my head, she does. And as far as I know, I’m not schizophrenic.
I’m certain I’m not alone; tons of people talk to their dogs. It’s the extent to which I talk to Rosie that I find kind of funny.
Yesterday, we were walking up 22nd Street and a woman walking her Rhodesian Ridgeback approached us. Rosie pulled on the leash and made a beeline for the dog, tail wagging like a manic metronome. The owner, an eccentric looking woman, quickly crossed the street with her dog, as many people do when they either have a dog that’s not friendly, are in a hurry to get its “business” done, or simply don’t feel like interacting.
As this woman crossed to the other side of the street, Rosie looked up at me, rejected and seemingly crushed.
“Next time, Rosie.” I told her. And making sure we were a safe distance from the woman and her Ridgeback (and anyone else), I added: “That lady was probably a bitch anyway who had no life. We’re better off not having met her. Let her go home to her empty house and empty life with no friends and wallow in her despair.”
Rosie stared at me, and I wondered what she was thinking. It was one of two things: “Lady, you’re fucking bonkers” (likely), or, “Yeah! I’m glad we didn’t meet her! She didn’t have a life!” (Not as likely.)
Then there have been those times when people have “caught” me talking to Rosie on our walks. I generally don’t care, but I don’t want to be known as the crazy in the neighborhood (come to think of it, I probably already am).
It’s usually the little things I say often that people hear — the less extreme, off-the-wall things, like, “Rosie, good walking!” (when she’s not pulling on the leash). Or, “Good job! Do you want a little piece of chicken jerky?” as a reward for putting something down she has picked up off the street. Or, “let’s go home,” or “get busy” if she’s dallying and taking too much time to pee. (Although once on a very cold day, someone did catch me saying, “Rosie, will you please hurry up and shit so we can go inside?”)
Then, the crazy rears its head again and things like “leave it” turn into “Rosie, don’t eat that feces, it’ll give you a parasite, we’ll have to go see Dr. Farber, he’ll diagnose you with Giardia and have to put you on Metronidazole.” Or “Rosie, do you want to go to Chula’s and play later after you eat your pancaketh?” (That’s pancakes said with a lisp. Translation: breakfast.)
Generally, our two-way conversations go something like this. We may come in from a walk and I might say,” “Rosie, would you like a piece of freeze-dried liver, a Greenie, a piece of chicken jerky, or a cheese treat?”
“I had a Greenie after breakfast,” I imagine as she looks up at me with her doe eyes. “So I think a liver treat.”
Or, it could go like this:
“Hey Rose, it’s time to brush your teeth.”
“We have to or you’ll get plaque and then they’ll have to give you anesthesia and that could be dangerous because you have a heart murmur.”
“I’m still not brushing, so I think instead I’ll go curl up in a little ball on my bed and avoid you altogether.”
Sometimes she gets feisty.
“Rosie, it’s bath time.”
“Sure it is.”
“No, really — it is.”
“Mom, maybe it’s your bath time.”
“Rosie? Don’t get fresh.”
Our deeper conversations can be on all sorts of topics. We usually get deep on Friday nights. We talk about music, art, film, and philosophy. The other day we talked about Nietzsche.
“God is dead, mom,” Rosie quipped.
“I know, I know, Rosie. I know.”