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Dog gone Orchard!

Maxx loves it when the plants are green and wet

Maxx loves it when the plants are green and wet

It is not often that I give the option to Maxx to decide which route we will take for our walks. Being the human, I pretty much decide the route or how long we will walk depending on the time I have on the said day. However, I do let Maxx have a say on days I feel indulgent.

Like today.

It was a rainy morning, as is usual for Singapore when the North East monsoon hits the island. Typically, I would request Siti, my helper, to walk Maxx in such weather just long enough for him to answer nature’s calls and keep the walking schedule with the intent of exercise for later. Siti however is away at Palembang to spend time with her family and that leaves me in charge of the family, dog et al for the next 30 days.

Both Maxx and I were going to miss her more than the others in the family. Maxx loves stepping out with Siti, who takes him out on the lunches and dinners with friends and makes sure he gets doggie treats.  For Maxx, walking with Siti is like a field trip. Slow paced walk, loads of time to sniff at interesting corners, an opportunity to hang out with other dogs, whose humans were friends of Siti’s, rest time when she poses for photos for her Facebook profile etc. I will miss Siti too, but for different reasons.

When the morning dawned, I knew it was going to be crazy. School term began today, Siti was leaving for her holiday and to top it all, it was raining. As always, Maxx lay on the floor, just outside the kitchen, watching me broodingly through half closed eyes as I busied myself fixing breakfast for the daughter and husband. A few minutes after Akank left for her school bus, he looked up at me expecting me to say, “Want to go for a walk, Maxx?.” I believe dogs can tell time. How else do you think Maxx knows that it is 7am in the morning and time for his walk? If I hope to enjoy a cup of coffee or read anything, I better be done before 6.59 am.

Knowing that I had no choice, I stepped out; umbrella in one hand and the dog lead in the other. Just out of the gate, Maxx decided to play tough. When he does not want to walk the direction I want to walk, he stands rooted to the spot. When I turned around and looked at him, he stared right back at me, defiantly.  No amount of tugging at the lead or coaxing him with endearments cut any ice with him. So I did what works every time; I had a conversation. Often times, I have noticed people looking over their shoulders, watching me talk to my dog.

 “You don’t want to go this way, Maxx? Defiant stare.

“Alright. Then you tell me what you want to do?” Blinks eyes.

“Do you want to go back home, Maxx?” Flares his nostrils, continues to stare without blinking.

“Ok. You show me which way you want to go and I will go with you, Ok? ” Usually this works. He either starts moving in the direction that he wants to go or wags his tail.

But today, he continued to stare back. He would not budge, move or trace his paw steps back home. I had to tug at the lead a couple of times to tell him I meant business.  Maxx sensed that he had no option and decided to walk along. Along the way, at the traffic lights he slowed down and leaned to the side of the road he wanted to go. I decided to humor him. I crossed the road and let him lead the way.  He cleverly chose covered areas which protected him from the constant drizzle of the rain. “Good boy, Maxx.” I kept the conversation going.

He seemed to know where he was heading, even though the route he chose was not a familiar walking route for me. He made me cross another street and walked towards a park. I smiled and continued indulging him and before I knew it, we were right on Orchard road, Singapore’s most popular tourist attraction!  Who knew Maxx was the ‘window shopping at malls’ kind?

It was very early in the morning and other than a few commuters, corporate people walking to their day jobs and night security guards that were stationed outside some of the malls, Orchard road was pretty quiet.  The huge television screens were live, blinking advertisements that fascinated Maxx and held his attention, he looked at display windows and mannequins and wagged his tail at some of them, and he peeked at his own reflection on the glass panes as we walked past. His tongue was out on one side and he looked happy. The best part of the route he chose was that he managed to stay dry in the covered corridors.

We turned at the Scape Youth Park at Orchard Link which is a colorful recreational park for young people. The rain washed grass looked green and by just looking at Maxx  sniffing at it, I can tell it smelt fresh too. We got back home in lesser time than it took for our usual morning walks but I can bet my last dollar, much happier.

I cannot wait for all the adventures that I will have with Maxx in the coming days.

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