This isn’t him, but close enough

As ragged and dirty as the day is long

Four legs and a crooked tail

And a look bespeaking many beatings.

His smell is musty, the fur is matted.

No collar, no tags, a mongrel for sure.

The head is down and tail between the legs

But no teeth laid bare in fearsome warning.

I gauge the moment carefully

Calling up all past canine encounters.

Most were amicable and a few were not.

I’ve had many encounters before

And pride myself on being a judge

Of mood or temper or disposition.

I weigh the odds and read the moment.

Now I confess to being a “dog” person.

They sense me and I sense them.

I look into the eyes to measure the intent.

If that gaze is full of ice and steel

Then this is one encounter best avoided.

Instead these brown and rheumy eyes

Look up pleading for food or a gentle hand.

My approach is measured,

Mimicking  the actions of submission.

Head lowered, eyes downcast, open palms up

No sudden moves, a gentle low-pitched murmur

Show no aggression, show no fear.

I can feel the ice begin to melt.

Ten thousand years of instinct

Are submerged in this moment of approach.

The roles are now established.

Just another contact like all the rest

But this is the first between

You and me.

We named him FELLA.

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