It was nearing 3:00. I knew this because Ray woke up from a dead sleep and walked over to stand in front of me, whining. I was in the middle of something so I ignored him.
Thinking perhaps that I needed encouragement, Ray went to his toybox, came back with a stuffed floppy thing, and stood in front of me, ears deployed, head tilted, waiting for my reaction.
Still involved, I ignored him.
Convinced that perhaps he didn't have the right toy, Ray returned to the toybox, picked up his stuffed cow and did a turn around the coffee table, enticingly looking over his shoulder.
I sighed, put aside what I was doing, and went to fetch his harness. It was now exactly 3:00, Ray's afternoon walk time.
I laid the harness on the floor and asked Ray to step in. Usually this is enough to get him to drop whatever he is doing and get ready to go. Instead, Ray, with cow in mouth, gingerly stepped into the harness and waited patiently while I fastened the clasps. I picked up my keys, held open the door for the blind cow herder and awaited developments.
Cow still clasped in jaws, Ray pranced into the front yard, the cows arms and legs swinging jauntily. Surprised that the cow was coming with us, I followed Ray down to the corner and around. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the workmen who had been installing underground cables, point and laugh as the big dog jogged by.
Ray continued down the street and to the next corner and around; I followed, always waiting for the dog to get tired of carrying his toy and drop it.
As we neared Halle's house, a man with a brand-spanking-new puppy in his arms, stepped out of his car.
"Hi, Ray!" he said as I stopped to take a whiff of that new puppy smell.
Getting a good look at Ray and his companion, the man looked at me and mouthed the words "So cute," the look of a twelve year old girl talking about her teen idol on his face. I laughed at the incongruity of a man with a puppy talking about the cuteness of the big hound, but Ray was antsy and obviously on a mission so we didn't linger.
Ray stopped at the next driveway
"They're not home yet," I said of Halle's family as I looked at the lack of cars.
Understanding completely, Ray turned and walked to the curbside lamppost, dropped his cow, and left a p-mail. Until that moment, I hadn't realized that Ray was bringing a welcome-home present to his best girl. I waited until he was away from the spot to pick up the cow. I didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him that Halle is really only interested in gifts of the edible kind.