DAVID SCHADE, Victoria, British Columbia
I SHARE your skepticism that your dog understands the precise meaning of "walk." (Some animal lovers will dispute thisbut please, no e-mails about how much your dog enjoys Great Expectations.) For all you know, when you excitedly say, "Walk!" your dog hears, "I like you!" or, "Let's drive home and watch Benji."
Clearly, it's possible to deceive a dog and in your case, that's a good thing.
What's the alternative? You can't offer even the most linguistically gifted dog a convincing argument for returning to the yard. You could bribe her, if you carried meat in your glove compartment. But bribery also raises moral questions.
Happily, what you're doing is harmless: It's not the same as telling your kids they're going to Disneyland and then taking them to the dentist.
If you're still worried about lying to your dog, then give her a firm commandinto the car!and make sure she's trained to obey it, for her benefit and yours.
But if you do become convinced of Ornette's advanced verbal ability, give her bus fare and tell her to return home whenever she likes. And be sure to tell her where she should get off, so she doesn't get lost.
(The New York Times Upfront, Vol. 142, March 1, 2010)