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“Good Girl Gracie.”

The girls were out shopping again.

By Judy Bonner

They walked side by side in front of us, with me and Melissa hanging in the background.  Youth and a joy of being tougher will do that.  The chatter and giggle were non-stop.  We could not hear what they were saying, but sometimes I think they were having a good laugh on us.

They were a cute pair.  Melissa’s girl was a bit older with wavy blond hair that tousled when she walked.   My girl had long legs that glided across the ground.  Each was wearing a vest which accentuated their youthful figure.

They were good window shoppers.  Nothing got past them.  They practically pushed their noses up against the window to get a better look at the displays inside.  From that position, they scouted around the store for anyone they might know or for something they might want.Gracie

Today, we were at a big box department store.   As we approached the store front, the doors magically opened, beckoning us in.  This worried my girl.  It took some convincing to get her to sneak past the mysterious swinging doors and into the store for some serious shopping.

This store knew how to entice the gals.  The clothing department smacked us in the face as we entered.  The girls hastened their pace to get to the racks of clothes as me and Melissa each snagged a shopping cart.  There were so many clothes to see, to touch, to smell, to run through.  Blue jeans and dresses were especially fun.  Their rack heights let the bottom of these clothes just skim the floor.  My girl especially loved weaving in and out of the jeans on the racks.

But, we had a shopping list and only 20 minutes on the clock to get it all in the cart.  Me and Melissa went our separate ways, each taking our girl with us.  They looked at each other and then at us.  “Boring!”

Shopping list and the cart handle in one hand and my girl in the other hand, we headed off deep into the store.  She sat patiently as I lifted a big box containing an ironing board off the shelve into my cart.  Was that a smirk I saw on her face as she watched me struggle with the box?   We easily found the other items on the shopping list and were heading back to the front of the store to meet up with Melissa and her girl.

I so enjoy shopping with my girl.  Excursions into stores with clothing seem to be her favorite venue in our social obedience classes.  Gracie was practically prancing alongside me and the cart.  Our trainer’s first and foremost rule on these excursions was “no petting” by ANYONE.  Gracie’s vest had messages on it as well: “Please Do Not Pet Me I’m Working”.

I scanned the store looking for Melissa.  I saw a young man with a toddler in hand several aisles down.  The toddler, catching sight of Gracie and taking advantage of her father’s distraction, pulled lose from her father’s grip and was running full speed to Gracie.  What a sprinter!  The toddler gave me little time to access the situation yet alone come up with a plan of action.

I looked down at Gracie.  She already had the situation under control.  Border Collies on the farm had to deal with incorrigible sheep all the time.  A toddler in a store was nothing.  Besides, Gracie knew toddlers could not read the messages on her vest.

Gracie1Gracie was sitting at the side of the shopping cart, the end of her tail swishing back and forth in excitement, her body tense in anticipation of the inevitable tackle.   The toddler ran right into Gracie, wrapping her arms around Gracie’s neck.  Gracie did not move.  She gently licked the toddler’s chin with the tip of her tongue.

The toddler’s father, certainly not a sprinter, caught up with us.  He apologized profusely for what just happened.  He started to unravel his daughter from Gracie.  The toddler broke into a cry of “no”.   Gracie sat quietly, saying and doing nothing.  The toddler’s arms and legs wiggled around Gracie, trying to escape her dad’s grasp.  Eventually the father was able to convince his daughter to go with him.  The toddler was sniffling as she walked away, her hand tightly in her dad’s hand.

“Good girl Gracie.”  “Great job.”  These were the only words I needed to say.  I praised Gracie the whole way back to the front of the store to meet up with the rest of the class.  No need to tell the trainer what happened.  Dogs cannot read.Gracie2

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