It was early. We were headed around the 'long block,' the one we rarely walk anymore because it's just not long enough to tire out the blind hound. But Hurricane Sandy was on his/her way and Gregg and I had hatches to batten so Ray was going to have take one for the team. While Gregg was out buying food and gassing up his car, Ray and I were out getting truncated exercise.
Up the street, walking toward us, was a group of three teenage girls trailed by a teenage-girl-father. They were going door-to-door trying to raise funds for the high school choral team.
"What kind of dog is that?" asked the father as Ray and I were about to pass.
We stopped and I gave him the usual spiel about Ray while the girls were giving their spiel to a person who had been unlucky enough to open their door.
The girls turned from their victim and came towards us down the walkway. Ray 'looked' their way, his ears alertly deployed in Dumbo mode, his head tilted inquisitively. The girls paused en masse. They all looked startlingly similar; the same height and shape, with long brown hair and vaguely pleasant features, but without being obviously related in any way. They looked at Ray, who was blocking their access to the sidewalk, uncertain as to what to do.
"This dog is blind," said the father.
The girls all awwwwwed but none of them made a move to pet or approach Ray, visibly uncomfortable being near such a large a dog.
I moved Ray out of the way, wished the girls good luck and walked on.
"Make sure to donate if we come to your door," yelled the father after us as we ambled away.
The girls all giggled and looked embarrassed.
"I will," I shouted back secure in the knowledge that they were headed away from my house.
Later that afternoon, Gregg and I were finishing up a late lunch and getting ready to climb the roof to our next hatch-battening chore - clearing the gutters. I glanced out the front window to see the three teenage girls coming up the walkway to my door. The teenage-girl-father was waiting on the sidewalk.
"Ray, your friends are here," I said to my hound as I reached for my purse.
Ray trotted to the door to greet the fund-raisers. They looked nervously at the dog as I opened the door and handed them my donation. I watched cautiously, ready to make a quick grab, as Ray walked slowly out the door and past the girls, making no move in their direction. He stepped off the porch, flopped on the walkway, and turned to 'look' coyly over one shoulder at the now-giggling group.
"Ray, did you want them to rub your belly?" I asked the recumbent dog.
Ray tentatively lifted his front leg to expose his belly, obviously not expecting much, knowing he was playing to a tough crowd. I saw jaws drop; an identical look of astonishment was on the faces of the three girls. The giggling intensified.
"One of you better rub his belly!" called the father, watching the show from the sidewalk.
I walked around the girls, squatted next to my dog, and scrubbed his belly. Reassured by the display, the bravest of the three approached, and watched apprehensively by the other two, bent over to gently touch Ray's belly.
Ray stayed still, relaxing, enjoying his moment of triumph.