Midway through an afternoon walk, Charlie and I sighted a big dog with long red-gold fur ahead of us. Charlie kept walking, hands over ears and head tilted down. But he was clearly watching the dog. Whenever the dog stopped or sat down, Charlie ran off sideways in the opposite direction, eyes still on it.(I found this a quite impressive feat, if you consider that Charlie still had his hands more or less over his ears all the while.) Soon as the dog and her or his owner (who didn't seem to be much taller than me) commenced walking, Charlie stopped the sideways trot and walked forward. At a measured pace. And then we turned a corner and it seemed that the dog stopped and sat about ever 10 or 12 feet. Sometimes, the dog appeared to be turning and looking straight at Charlie. I started to suspect that Charlie, with his unflinching attention on the dog and his repeated, rapid, projectile movements could very well have caught the dog's focus. As I stood by him, I noted that, while he was clearly intrigued with the dog, his heart wasn't---as it has in the past---pounding and thumping. While still wary of man's best friend, Charlie was able to regard the big red dog without, it seems, his blood pressure elevating to near-panic levels. Perhaps he's learning to "read" canine body language? (Which would make sense to me as Charlie is very attuned to non-verbal body language in us humans.) Has he figured out that dogs on leashes aren't going to pursue him? The dog never actually moved towards Charlie. It was when the dog stopped moving that Charlie betook himself fast and away, but in a respectful, not entirely terrified, kind of way. Eventually the dog and the woman made a left down a sidestreet. Another woman was standing on her front lawn and she and the dog's owner started talking and that was the first time we heard the loud, deep sound of barking. Without missing a beat, Charlie started walking really really, as in much, faster, straight ahead. One more dog, and his or her owner, crossed paths with us as we were almost home. Charlie was walking at a brisk pace and barely seemed to notice the dog, which was smaller and cream-colored. I nodded a greeting at the owner and followed Charlie. Here's probably as good a place as any to note that the two stuffed animals that Charlie still keeps around are a black Labrador-ish puppy, and (despite years of handling, some of it in watery settings) a pale Golden Retriever-ish pup. Maybe they're not his "bestest friends," but there's some sort of fascination---interest---with dogs going on and as well. Our second walk on Tuesday was in the evening when it was dark. Almost every other walker we met was a dog owner: It Charlie keeps up the routine of walks morning, noon, and night, looks like we'll be having many an encounter of a canine kind.