(This is a continuation of a story begun two days ago)
Charlie bounded down the street after the capricious dog, who, as luck would have it, stopped at the tennis courts apparently interested in the fence, which it sniffed with interest. Charlie stopped about ten feet away from the dog and leaned forward to catch his breath. Even that short half-block job can be enough to knock the wind out of a person!
“Hey, girl,” Charlie suggested, though he didn’t know the dog’s gender. “It’s okay… it’s okay… it’s just me.” Charlie stepped forward and reached out his hand palm up for the dog to sniff. He instinctively gave the dog a moment to take him in. The dog sniffed his hand and, apparently deciding he was okay, moved forward and licked it. Not stopping here, the next instant the dog was directly below Charlie’s feet and began licking Charlie’s hands, neck, and face.
Charlie did what came naturally: he smiled and laughed. “Woah there, girl! Easy now!” He leaned against the fence as the dog assailed him with licks. The dog now had its paws propped against Charlie’s coat, as its tongue coated Charlie’s face in happy dog saliva.
Charlie was now laughing with full-bodied joy. He completely forgot the concern of a moment before. In fact, for a moment he forget about everything else, immersed in a happy moment. He began petting the dog, almost as eagerly as the dog had been licking him, a reciprocated gesture of friendship. Curiously, he did not think to stop the dog from licking him.
Stevie had watched this encounter with delight from the basketball court. “Charlie,” he shouted. “You got a new friend! The doggie likes you!” He had never seen Charlie with a dog before, so he was pretty sure this was the first time Charlie had met it, yet it looked as if the dog had just adopted his new master.
Charlie waved his arms, mimicking helplessness, yet smiling all the while: “You can say that again! She’s so happy!” He was practically guffawing, with surprise and delight in equal measure. “Easy, girl. Easy!”
After a licking session that lasted probably ninety seconds, the dog finally brought its paws back to the ground, and then began moving in a circle in front of Charlie, gazing at him with expectancy, as if he had a treat or a Frisbee to throw.
And that’s when Charlie got his first good look at the dog.