Living in a suburb of Washington, DC, means that highly placed government officials, the kind that warrant a personal secret service detail, occasionally live in our neighborhood.
On our early morning walks, Pettigrew and I see parked outside of homes, the distinctive, dark SUVs, motors idling on cold mornings. On warm days, they sport bike racks, in order to accompany those officials who choose to ride to work rather than drive.
I sometimes wonder about the effectiveness of this oh-so-easy-to-spot security. Is their presence alone a deterrent? Do they periodically do a circuit around the house? Are there agents stationed in places we can’t see? Personally, I like to imagine them high up in the branches of the trees, but I think it’s unlikely.
I never thought Pettigrew paid them much attention, but I appear to be wrong. Learning from the best, he has started his own neighborhood watch. Not so concerned with politics and terrorists, his targets meet other criteria. The inhabitants of his Homes of Interest are good for loving pats, pockets full of treats, and dogs with whom to play.
The other day his steps slowed and when I followed the direction of his gaze, I saw we were passing one of his favorites. There lived the triumvirate: two adults who always had time for a thorough pat and often kept treats in their pockets, a friendly dog, and a little kid. Pettigrew’s nirvana.
Despite his keen intelligence, and, I have to say, unlike the secret service agents from whom he got his first exposure to the intelligence community, Pettigrew does not appear to register whether there is a car in the driveway or not. A marker that is strongly correlated with his level of success at enticing someone out to play.
Or, perhaps he does notice, but chooses to ignore this sign that his wishes may go unfulfilled. Pettigrew is, at heart, an optimist!
He also pauses before his gal-pal Stella’s house. Sometimes leading me up her front walk to see if she can visit.
His trainer’s home is yet another Place of Interest. When we were away on a trip, one poor dog walker found himself stranded outside her home. Pettigrew had settled in, prepared to hold vigil until she appeared.
How does Pettigrew know? Is there a smell in the air? Does he recognize the appearance? Once a Home of Interest is identified, do the neighborhood dogs mark it in some distinctive manner?
Whatever it is, Pettigrew has mapped our neighborhood. For now, I’m glad there are only three homes on his surveillance circuit!