Walks with Red Dog (Excerpt)
By Jim Conrad
Red Dog on the Porch
Red Dog was special.
He was not one of those dogs who with other dogs ran howling into the wind. He just loved walking with me. Sometimes, on the gravel road, he walked so close that his bright red fur brushed against my leg.
"Red Dog," I'd say, "each morning when we meet for the first time, why do you always look so glad?"
Of course, Red Dog never did reply with words. If he wanted to say something, he spoke with his eyes, or the bend in his tail. However, since we were friends, that was enough.
At night, Red Dog slept on the front porch. Lying there, dreaming dreams of long summer days and endless walks, his night-world filled up with the moon and stars, hoot-owl hoots, and ghostly white fogs that crept silently into the fields.
Between dreams, I think that Red Dog must have awakened, raised his head, and looked around. Maybe then he became a little lonely. And probably he wondered why I got to sleep inside, but he had to sleep on the porch...
But, you see, Red Dog lived in a time when country dogs such as he were not allowed inside their masters' homes. In those days, most people didn't even believe that dogs had feelings, though I did.
Yes, during those days when we walked in the fields and woods, Red Dog and I helped one another see things in special ways. Weedy roadsides were like museums and the fields of corn and beans around us were like circuses with many rings.
In Red Dog's life, no mystery was greater than that of the house.
Though Red Dog could romp in any field or woods, or take a nap beside any road or ditch, never could he enter the house. The only place I ever went without him was into the house. If I came outside wearing clothes different from those I had worn when I entered the house, Red Dog would look at me in amazement.
 romp 嬉戏，喧闹。
"Red Dog," I'd say, "do you think that when I go inside the house I become someone else? Do you think that inside the house I travel to other worlds, or do magical things? When you stand beside the screen door hearing voices and music on the radio, do you think that inside I'm having a party with elves and gnomes?"
Sometimes I laughed when I thought about what Red Dog must have imagined as he sat outside the screen door. Yes: What went on inside Red Dog's mind was my favorite mystery.
Once I thought about letting Red Dog come inside—just for a few moments—so I could watch his face as he looked around.
But, I never did.
"Buenos días Señor Red Dog," I said. "Anoche soñé que éramos pájaros, y que volamos con alas por la música. Cada vez que oímos los violines y cellos, volamos por nubes de colores distintos..."
Red Dog's eyes sparkled with what at other times I would have considered to be understanding. My trick was working...
"Y, ¿es que me entiendes, aunque sé por cierto que nunca has oído ninguna palabra de español en toda tu vida?" I asked with a mocking laugh.
Thinking I had said, "Let's take our morning walk," Red Dog led toward the gravel road, glancing at me over his shoulder.
But... Red Dog was not catching on to what I was doing. I began feeling ashamed for tricking him.
"And I even use a language I learned when every day I lived my life without you, Red Dog," I said in English. "I thought it would be funny to see what you did if today I spoke nothing but Spanish. But now I feel as if I've betrayed you..."
Hearing the remorse in my voice, for the first time Red Dog sensed that I was saying something different from what I always say. He came and stood close by me, for this was his way of comforting me.
I hugged the big red dog, and then we walked on the gravel road.