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Florence in Words

Dogsitting Yoya

It’s Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, November 25, 2010, and I’m smiling because I have a visitor who is consistently amusing—and demanding. She’s a small five-year old Maltese named Yoya, who belongs to Don Thomas and Jorge Cao, and who comes to live with me whenever they travel. So she’s here for a long weekend, and I am smiling, and occasionally even laughing at her antics.

She sleeps on my bed, which is queen-sized, so there’s plenty of room for both of us. But there was a problem. The last time she visited, she headed straight for my tall glass of water for a few sips. To do this, she had to stretch her little body from the bed to the glass-topped table, and half the water landed on the table. So I began to carry two glasses of water to the bedroom, one for me and a shorter glass for Yoya. All seemed to work well, and last night she kept me laughing, for each time I got up to use the bathroom, she took that for an opportunity to hit her water glass.

What is so funny about a little white dog? Well, she’s not always funny. Sometimes, she’s simply endearing, as in the morning when I’m clearly awake—she never disturbs me asleep—she will lick any part of me she can reach and wag her tail violently. She’ll stretch her body out, roll over on her back, waving paws in the air, mutely commanding me to stroke her tummy.

She waits patiently as I dress for the morning walk, and she plays with me a bit as I pick up the leash, seemingly trying to bite it and fight it, and then stretching out again so that I can put it over her head. Out the door she knows the route to the elevator and out of the building, and I wonder whether she's deciding where she wants to go, for it’s clear, once we are out of the building, that she commands the direction we will walk in. For a small dog, she’s strong, and it's hard to pull her. Also, I’m more curious about her choices than I am to inflict my will on her. I wonder what controls her choices, since there is no regularity to them. Sometimes we walk left, towards 70th, sometimes right, towards 66th, and sometimes she wants to go across the street to the areas marked for pets. She knows that when she chooses to go it's to be across the street that I usually say "sit," which means wait for the red light, and she sits instantly without coaxing.

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