I have read that dogs have the uncanny ability to sense their owner’s emotions and needs. There was even a recent news story about one dog’s ability to predict seizers in its owner. I am certain that our last dog, Dolly Dog knew that I was unwell and she slept next to the sofa and kept watch as I recovered from chemo. She held on and lay by my side as long as she could, but died last fall. Now we have Luci Dog, and she is another story entirely.

Since Luci recently graduated from Dog Training School, I felt somewhat confident that I would be able to get in the door on my return from the hospital without getting mowed down. Just to be sure, Gene got me into the house and into the recliner before releasing the beast. Luci was excited to see me, but on her way over was distracted by her ball and she stopped to pick it up and drop it in my lap. I tried not to cringe as she barreled towards me. Gene took her for a quick walk and bribed her with her favorite treat (baby carrots) on his return just to keep her distracted. We call carrots “motivators” since she will follow you anywhere and try out all her tricks just to get one.

Gene did his best to keep her distracted the first couple of days home, but Luci requires a certain amount of petting from each of us each day and she was not going to let me off the hook. Her 90 pounds of insistence as she shoved her nose under my elbow and threw my arm in the air was less than a subtle reminder that she was being neglected. I showed her my doctor’s orders that clearly stated that I could not move my arm that much for four weeks, but she didn’t care. Nor did she care that I was recovering. She loves Gene the most and thinks of him as her personal play toy, but she has come to expect extra walks during the day with just the two of us.

Luci’s point was that I had adopted her and agreed to take care of her. That care requires multiple walks per day, no less than seven petting episodes of varying duration, food and water, and at least four baby carrots per day. So suck it up Buttercup, let’s go for a walk. I managed to walk Luci three times today, with a handy stash of motivators (carrots) in my pocket to ensure cooperation from all those involved. I can see the wheels turning as she tries to decide between chasing a squirrel into the woods and her odds of getting a carrot afterwards. “Don’t make me come after you,” I say to her. “I like carrots too and I will eat that carrot right in front of you if you make me chase you.” My doctor says that walking is good for me. I’m thinking about loaning him Luci for a day.