I wake up feeling like there is a marathon awaiting me today. Twenty miles of non-stop running, panting and pounding my way towards a finish line that I can’t see much less imagine. Each morning dawns with this creeping feeling that the most grueling part waits for me still.
At least I can be grateful it’s the weekend. Andrew and I planned on going to a street festival a few blocks up the road. We eat separately, each perusing the news online. The dog, Holly pads between the rooms, shoving her head in my lap and grinning up to ask politely for a bit of a handout. I pick a crumb of toast from my plate and Holly snatches it from my fingers. As the coffee cup begins to empty, its caffeine jump starting my morning, I think that maybe today will not be so hard. There will be the festival to distract to me, and we’re taking Holly as well.
Though it’s still early the day is getting warm fast and I worry as we walk. We neglected to bring the dogs shoes along and she is pulling towards spots of shade to stand in. The shoes are not just a fashion accessory, though I do get a kick out of the looks on children’s faces when they see a dog wearing shoes. When I get asked by the curious why my dog is wearing four yellow canvas and rubber shoes, Velcro-ed securely to her paws, I suggest they try walking a mile barefoot on the blacktop while its over eighty degrees.
Holly finds as much shade as she can, a hundred pounds of dog dragging whomever is holding the leash into the various booths and collapsing on the floor. Despite her size this is not a dog with a high energy level. She is enjoying herself more when she’s rolling onto her back or offering a paw as people approach to fawn over her. I don’t think there’s ever been another hundred pounds of canine who so clearly expresses puppy as Holly.
But I was not entirely right in my earlier assessment. There is the festival, yes, but it is not distracting at all. I pass by booths and see those things I would steer my child towards. Parents lift babies and toddlers, showing them off to the older women who come to coo over them. One little girl gives Holly a secretive smile, spinning herself closer to the dog who does her own belly crawl towards the child. Tiny hands and wet slobbering tongue meet.
Suddenly I’m aware that my throat is tight. I’m holding back tears as I think bitterly about how long the wait is ahead of us. I’m glad that Andrew has gone off for a bottle of water and is not here to see this.
When we continue walking, coming near to the end of the festival I slowly resign myself to facts. I ignore that empty space, a tiny child sized space that haunts our days.
A flyer and a button are shoved into my hands. I look down, reading the top of the flyer quickly.
Pet Wash &
Looking into the shop I see it is clean, empty save for two people behind the counter. I smile at the woman who has handed me the flyer then steer the dog inside. Holly is overdue for a nail clipping. She clicks everywhere she walks. I ask the woman at the counter and she affirms that they do nail clipping.
Andrew and I slip behind the chain-link gate that keeps the grooming area sealed off. The woman takes Holly from us and begins to slip her into a blue vest. I watch absently, looking around the place, smiling at the two dogs kenneled at the other end of the shop. It is not until I see chains being clipped onto the vest that I take greater interest in the process. Andrew is equally focused on it and I sense a bit of nervousness in his expression.
The woman explains. Being aerial for nail clipping is easier on a dog, reliving them of the burden of balancing on three paws. The harness also wraps about them like a hug and provides comfort. That makes sense, I try to imagine standing on one leg for a pedicure and decide that –
I look at Holly and silently hope she doesn’t panic. My mind wants to envision her rising up a few feet, strapped in this strange looking gear and going into a panic. A hundred pounds of dog, frightened and airborne? I’m as far from the adoption as I could be right now.
Nervously I watch as the woman pulls down on a rope and Holly rises into the air. The dog looks around a bit, more curious by her defeat of gravity than worried. I bite my lips and suppress a laugh. Holly hangs there, grinning at us and gobbling a treat from the woman’s hands. I turn away. The dog is goofy defined. Any sadness from that morning is gone, replaced by this intense need to laugh. I look back and the woman is sitting on the floor, holding Holly’s paw and clipping the nails. All the while the dog is looking pleased, tail wagging.
Some days I can forget the feeling that I have a marathon waiting. Some days there’s Holly.
I'd like to thank kind folks at Dirty Dog, whom we'll be visiting again soon, for their kind handling of Holly and of us. www.dirtydogsandiego.com