"Oh no," she said, "he's great with dogs. We just taught him to stand still and never run around new dogs."
I turned back to Little Guy, still frozen in his tracks and knelt down to his level. "You did just what mom taught you to do, didn't you?" He nodded and his thick glasses slid down his nose. "Good for you, you must be a really good learner." He nodded again and his glasses slid down further. He reached up awkwardly and smashed them to his face with a flat hand, leaving dirty streak marks across the already smudged lenses. I looked from his Thomas the Train shoes, to his Thomas and Friends shirt, to the blue eye patch with train tracks covering his left eye. "Hey, I love Thomas," I said. "It looks like you like Thomas, too."
"Mmmhmmm," he said. "And Percy."
"Oh definitely Percy. What about Gordon?"
"Yeah!" he said, excitedly. "And James!"
"How could we forget about James!" I asked. Marshall tugged at his leash, desperately wanting to kiss Little Guy all over his smudged glasses. "Hey, do you want to say hi to Marshall?" I asked. "He's very friendly." Little Guy nodded and walked closer. I made Marshall sit and put my hand on his back so he would remember not to jump up on Little Guy. Little Guy turned his head and looked at Marshall before extending a flat palm for him to sniff, just as his mother had taught him. Marshall licked his grimy fingers and Little Guy closed his eye and giggled. "He gives lots of kisses," I said.
Little Guy took another step closer and patted Marshall's head. Marshall attempted to lick his knees and Little Guy stepped to the side of him. He closed his eye again and buried his fingers in Marshall's fur. "He has long hair, doesn't he?" I asked. Little Guy nodded and then dropped to his knees, rubbing his hands and arms up and down Marshall's sides and back. "He REALLY needs a hair cut!" I stated.
"Why?" asked Little Guy.
"He is going to be too hot in this warm weather!" I said. "Plus, his hair is getting too long and tangly."
Little Guy closed his eye again and wrapped his arms around Marshall, putting his cheek against his back. "Don't cut it," he murmured. "It makes him soft. And cuddly. It feels good and cuddly." I was quiet for a moment and let Little Guy sit and hug my good and cuddly dog. I know what the good and cuddly warmth can do, and Little Guy clearly didn't need my words or attention.
I hope Little Guy had a dog inside his house, and, I hope, his dog is soft and in need of a haircut.