Rufus is afraid of his retractable leash’s black handle. When I reach to clip the leash to his collar, I hold the handle behind my back, so he is not reminded that it is part of the deal. When he sees it, he opens his eyes wider, and his ears flatten back against his head. He enjoys everything about a walk: the smells, the sounds, the rasping of his feet on the asphalt. But the leash handle ruins it all. So if I can, I let him off leash when we go outside alone.
“Run!” I whisper and he streamlines across the grass to the woods.
“Pee!” I yell, and then laugh, because he does.
Sometimes I yell, “Poop!” and then wonder what the neighbors think of our staccato conversation.
Rufus spins out of the woods, past me: “I’m headed out!”
“Inside!” I holler, and he circles back, rounding the herb garden, through the door.