The dogs know something up. I swear it. I am sitting with a cup of coffee planning the day. Odysseus saunters up tossing a sock into the air. I take the sock, reminding him that they are not toys. He sits looking at me; his sister Penny hustles over, she sits too. They are extra obedient this morning. We frequently call Penny ostentatiously good. Today they are as close to perfect as border collies can be.
Do they really know that I return to work after a month off next week?
To say that I have enjoyed my time with my wife and dogs is an understatement. We've lived at a slower pace, one in which there is more time to respond to the dogs' longing for work. I swear that Odysseus has become a different dog. He's calmer. The other day, he simply sat on a couch absorbing all the love I showered on him. This is not unusual behavior for Penny. But not Ody is in on the act. To live is to be adored, he seems to whisper.
There's little doubt that dogs perceive the energy a person gives off. I suspect that our dogs can sense my ambivalence about vacation's end. I've had to spend a lot of time this month on the phone and attending meetings involving the pending federal indictment of a client. But most of this work was done at home. The dogs seems to like that. They can watch me talk.
But I have a full week in the courts next week: sentencing in one criminal case, an arraignment in a new federal case, a suppression hearing in a third case, a motion to withdraw in another case. And then comes Wednesday. The week looks to be a blur, and some part of me is already preoccupied with preparation. The life of a litigator is one of constant planning and contemplation.
So this morning, Odysseus is my guide. Once my feet hit the floor, he came rushing to my side. As I brushed my teeth, he sat beside me, calmly awaiting instruction. I walked down the stairs just behind him; he kept looking back over his shoulder to check on me. I sat for awhile with a coffee. Both he and Penny remained close. Indeed, even know Penny sits at my feet, just out of arm's length, looking pensive. She knows I am a handful, and she is resting, awaiting her next assignment. Ody sits just around the corner, outside, surveying a flower garden lest a chipmunk or squirrel saunter too close.
Today will be a day of domestic chores. The garden, which explodes with produce just now, needs weeding. I need to finish cleaning a chicken coop. I also want to clear a little more unwanted growth from our emu's pen. It's been hot and humid this past month; progress on my outdoor tasks has been slow.
The dogs will watch me perform each chore, and will offer me one tennis ball after another throughout the day. Their work is fetching what I toss. They look forward to my praise.
This morning I swear they know that my mind is elsewhere. A new client is coming to see me Sunday morning. I have pleadings to review. Phone calls to return. Soon the lawyer's wheel will whirl again and I will do my best to tap dance atop it, hoping not to fall too often.
"Stay home with us," Ody says. "I agree," chirps Penny. I need to remind them of why we named them as we did. Penelope was ever faithful awaiting the return of her man. And Odysseus, ever wily Odysseus, struggled through his wandering to find a way home, a task in which he succeeded against all odds. These dogs represent home to me. They yield a sort of faithful courage and serve as an ever present reminder than amid a life of struggle there is peace and a sense of home within reach, I need only to open my heart to be there.
I hear what these dogs teach. They remain a gift I do not deserve. They are good, even best, friends. They know a lot today, and today I am lucky to have no task more important than learning what they have to teach.