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      CAN DOGS SMILE? By Thomas Putnam

      “Sylvia.” 

      perroeI was walking on the Rails to Trails near Darling Run and had stopped to chat with a couple walking toward me. We had greeted each other and they admired Asaph who was relishing all the great animal smells the trail offers. I discovered they were visitors to the area, here for a week, that they had retired a few months ago, and that he had worked for PennDot and she had worked as a teacher's aide, both for 35 years. They discovered that I worked for a community performing arts group right in Wellsboro and that we produced plays and had children's choirs. 

      “So, what play you got going on now?” he asked.

      “Sylvia.” 

      “Never heard of it,” he said.

      “Oh, yes, we have,” she interjected. “It's the one about the dog.”

      “Are you talking about Annie?” he said. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow” he began singing.

      “That dog was Sandy, not Sylvia.” 

      “Are you sure?”

      “Of course, I'm sure. In this one, a dog messes up that couples' marriage.”

      “We saw that?”

      “Yes, you laughed through most of it.”

      “How could a dog mess up a marriage?”

      She chuckled.

      I asked if they had a dog.

      “We did,” she said with a tone that I couldn't quite read.

      “Yeah, she didn't care for it much.”

      She smiled.

      “Are you married?” he said with a tone that I could read quite well.

      “No,” I said and asked if they would still be around this coming weekend. “You could catch one of the performances.” 

      She indicated that they would not be still around. 

      “I like comedies,” he said. “It's good to be able to just laugh.”

      She smiled. “Well, we better get going; it looks as if it may rain.”

      We parted; they on to the parking area and Asaph and I on further down the trail. I found it odd that the situation in the play seemed so familiar to them, at least to her; and wondered how often a dog might “mess up a couples' marriage.” I looked at Asaph stopping to smell every few feet; he turned back and looked at me. I swear he had a smile on his face.

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