Paying a Toll…

On my daily walk along the lane I am accompanied by Charlie, the golden lab, when she catches me,

and Tites, Daughts’ lovely miniature schnauzer, when it isn’t too hot.

Recently though I’ve been going alone and always, rain or shine, at the corner of Rigsby and Windy Hill I am chased down by Mandy, the youngest working dog up on the cattle ranch where I buy my eggs and beef.

She likes to remind me that I am traipsing a little too closely to her property and need to tread lightly and fast without loitering.

I carry a stash of Milk Bones to sweeten these encounters.

I call it Paying my Toll.

She hurtles hell for leather out of her porch, across the pasture, ducks under the electric fence, to challenge me.  Her drooling gives her away every time, there is an ulterior motive; she knows I carry treats and eyes my pockets expectantly.

Sometimes she’ll be busy out in the back forty and miss my passing but she always manages to sneak up on me, feet muffled on the lane’s grassy verges.


grassy verges

I stop and turn around causing her to hesitate and back off.


She shyly approaches when I coax her forward, treat in hand,

“Sit,” I command and she bares her front teeth in an awkward smile,


Mandy smiling

and I give her a biscuit which she slinks off to the edge of the rock road to eat, delicately crunching it into several pieces, savoring it, minding her manners like a lady.

She is quite another dog when I make a business call for eggs.

She paces impatiently at the gate while I press the code to let me in and circles the car as I make my way slowly up the drive.

She rushes me as I alight, demanding to be stroked and petted, jumping up at me and smiling widely, nuzzling my neck and wagging her tail.

My tolls stay undetected in my pockets,

my lavish attention is all the treat she needs this day.

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