“Busted Stuff,” Track 7

"She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment… When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow.

"There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

"She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.

"She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.

"There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.

"Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously, She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will–as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.

"When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’…

"She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial.

"She knew that she would weep again… But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome."

(Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour")

It’s like losing her all over again.

Earning her keep

I open the box of cereal and pour some into a bowl of yogurt. A stray Cheerio falls to the floor.

Before I can even think to stoop down and pick it up, there’s a flurry of paws and fur and tongue skittering across the tile in hopes of conquering this miniscule kingdom of whole-grain, honey-nut goodness.

I put my foot over the Cheerio before she can even touch it with her nose. "Sit," I order sternly.

She looks at me, hesitates, then settles her butt on the floor. "Down," I continue.

She blinks, and there’s a look of bewilderment in her eyes. I can almost hear her sputtering indignantly: "But– but!–"

"Down," I say firmly.

She doesn’t move. She’s still looking at me in that way that clearly smacks of a plaintive child’s whine: "The *garbage* disposal doesn’t have to work for this stuff…"

"DOWN."

She whuffs and grudgingly lowers her body to the kitchen floor. I uncover the Cheerio and scratch her ear with my toe. "Good girl."

Considering she saved me the trouble of having to bend down, pick it up, then throw it in the trash, I probably could have stopped at "sit" and just let her have the Cheerio then. But in any case, hey, in this house? No such thing as a free treat when you lack opposable thumbs.

Peas in harmony

I refuse to talk about it with anyone because I’m too stubborn and proud and worried and really just pretty much stubborn sums it all up, but I’ve been so stressed these last two days that any external life complications that leap onto my already staggering pile of internal life (read: involving solely my body and my brain) complications kind of send me into a catatonic state in which I feel myself falling apart all over again.

Gracie can be the biggest pain in the ass sometimes and she does these little things from time to time that make my blood pressure skyrocket through the roof for a few, like the time when she found a recently and clearly used condom on the grass in front of our neighborhood development and tried to pick it up in her mouth, or the time when I dropped something that contained chocolate on the kitchen floor and as I was throwing the something away, she licked at the residue and OH MY GOD, DOG, DON’T YOU KNOW CHOCOLATE CAN KILL YOU?

But as I write this, she’s being good, which 80% of the time translates to, "she’s sleeping." Some days, she drives me up the wall, to the point where I seriously begin to consider putting her up for adoption because I don’t feel capable of loving her properly or fulfilling her needs. She’s still not reliably potty trained and she definitely has a mind of her own, and if she isn’t ready to come inside yet regardless of the fact that it’s blusteringly windy and freezing, no amounts of come-hithering or demanding or bribing-with-treats will make her pay attention to you, even though I know darn perfectly well that she fully understands the concept of, "Come here!"

And then some days, or at least some moments, moments like now, I wonder how I would have survived the loneliness her presence has managed to ward off. Moments like now, when she curls up into a ball of sleek, dark brown fur and long, long legs– or when she settles at my feet and spontaneously licks my bare ankle, just once, as though it were her way of letting me know that, you know, if I need her for anything, well, she’s there– I realize how imperative she is to the preservation of my sanity, as much as she occasionally threatens to destroy it.

There are still times when I resent her, when I’d really prefer to just crawl into a hole (read: under the blankets) and let the rest of my life slip by, just like that, but I know that eventually, she’ll be whining because it’s morning and she needs a) to go outside and pee, b) breakfast and water, and c) a walk. As I’ve said from the beginning, this dog is the reason I get out of bed every morning, for better and for worse.

The national day of jest, and I’ve spent it in headaches and tears and all-too-much-seriousness. Typical.

How to have a Petsmart adventure, Gracie-style

a.k.a., "A Dog’s Guide To Making Your Owner Want To Throttle You":

    1. Before your owner even mentions the words "car ride!" to you, make sure you have   
        a. your breakfast digested but still in your stomach

        b. last night’s dinner still in your colon because you refused to "go poop" outside the last four times your owner took you out and subsequently did not get that doggy treat, buy hey, you gotta make sacrifices
        c. plenty of water in your bladder

    2. When told you are going for a "car ride!" immediately start crouching and barking and jumping and running around the house, exasperating your owner only to the point where she threatens to cancel the "car ride!" but does not actually follow through.

    3. Get in the car.

    4. Drool. Excessively. All over the dashboard, the seat, the floor, the gear stick, the phone charger, and the side of the door.
    5. Leave nose prints on the window.
    6. Refuse to sit down so that every turn the car makes causes your body to fling itself practically into your owner’s lap.
    7. As soon as your owner gets out of the parked car, while she’s walking around the car to open the passenger door to let you out, clamber over to the driver’s seat and stare innocently at her as she looks at you in annoyance from the passenger side.
    8. Walk so close to the shopping cart that your owner has to frequently stop before she runs a wheel over your paw. Chuckle cleverly to yourself while she isn’t looking.
    9. Pull in the opposite direction of where the cart is going.
    10. Sniff the floor.
    11. Poop on it. Ignore her frantic "No! NO!"
    12. And again while your owner cleans up the first mess. Ironically, in the aisle with the pooper scoopers.
    13. Once back in the car and on the way home, silently throw up on the floor so that your owner doesn’t notice until the car is parked in the garage.
    14. Also pee on the seat. Don’t whine or anything beforehand to let your owner know you need to pee NOW. Just go. She won’t care. Honest.
    15. Escape death by obediently going into your crate when she near-drags you back into the house. Don’t whine. Don’t complain because she didn’t give you a Chicken Tender Strip this time. Just lie low, and she’ll have completely forgiven you by tomorrow. Tomorrow, there will be an abundance of treats because she’ll feel bad for being upset at you, because hey! You’re "just a dog"! And even though your owner is swearing to never let you go for a "car ride!" EVER AGAIN, she’s also remembering she needs to make good on her three-week-old promise to take you to the dog park, which is, like, 20 minutes away.

This program recommended for:
    -Dogs who don’t want their owners to ever get another dog, not ever in a million lifetimes
    -Dogs who don’t want their owners to ever have children unless those children come potty-trained and motion-sickness-free
    -Dogs who want to give their owners heart attacks caused by stress so that they can have FREE RUN! of the house and eat treats all day long
    -Men who never want to be dated

Gracie 1, Roommate 0

The Roommate informed me today that sometime yesterday, Gracie had gotten into his bedroom while he was out (not that hard, since he leaves his door wide open) and had, to put it bluntly, peed in there.

I have to admit, I was utterly floored and wanted to insist that she couldn’t have possibly done what he said she did, except there are only three residents of this house, and I KNOW I didn’t do it and I’m pretty sure he didn’t, though I’m not ruling it out as a chance-in-hell possibility.

Gracie’s been really good about not peeing in the house for the last week or two. Maybe two-and-a-half. And even when she did have accidents, they were always on the tile, not the carpet. She’s been doing pretty well with the whole moving-up-the-good-behavior ladder in general, in fact; she doesn’t get into the kitchen trash, she doesn’t chew on non-dog toys (except for my old pair of faux-suede tan heels which I kicked off in my bedroom and left right by her bed, goddammit), she doesn’t even jump on the furniture.

Take note of that last one.

Because what she did, you see, what she did, you understand, wasn’t just pee in his room. She peed ON HIS BED.

And I can empathize all too well with what he came home to, as there was a stretch of several months when one of my cats, back at my parents’ house, took to peeing right in the middle of my bed, and I’d come home at one or two in the morning, dead tired, only to find my bed wet and reeking. So in a way, he’s actually lucky that he made his discovery so early in the evening. (At the time, I was out and Gracie was crated.)

The Roommate shrewdly suggested that she did what she did as a territorial thing, that he’s constantly shooing her out of his bedroom, so when she finally had the opportunity to go in there, she decided to once and for all stake her claim. I guess he’s right, if only because I can’t imagine why the hell she would go and do such an uncharacteristic thing like that.

I guess I should feel bad. Actually, no, I do feel bad, but I guess I should feel worse. And, you know, maybe I would feel worse if he didn’t constantly pile up dirty dishes in the sink RIGHT AFTER I’ve put all the dirty dishes that were already piling up there into the dishwasher, or right after I’ve unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher so that dirty dishes can be put DIRECTLY in the dishwasher.

And maybe this was Gracie’s way of saying, Hey, stop sleeping so much and do a little housework, hey? ‘Cause it’s not like you have a JOB or anything right now to go to. Wash your damn dishes! Get the mail!

I have, in the meantime, reprimanded her by explaining that in this house, we who have four legs do not jump up onto furniture, let alone pee on it.

He, in the meantime, has continued to leave the house with the door to his bedroom WIDE FUCKING OPEN.

I have the feeling that, come June when his 6-month lease is up, I’m going to have to up and find me a new roommate.

Two-sday

Catalogue of today’s events:

1. Morning walk with El Perro Con Los Ojos Locos
2. Work
3. More work
4. Work, just a little bit
5. Albertsons (rice pudding! on sale!)
6. It RAINED, RIGHT IN MY EYE
7. Okay, eyes.
8. Home

So it turns out that Typepad kindly automatically bills me each month without letting me know. Ha ha! Um. Yeaaaah. I guess I should have known this, but obviously I didn’t else I would have cancelled it before the 20th. It’s like they know how bad I am at taking the initiative to actively cancel something. This is going to be AOL all over again.*

Today is the first day I’ve crated Gracie, which meant I had to drive home during lunch so I could let her out and give her some exercise before sticking her right back in there for another four-hour stretch (but I’ve been with her all day before, and seriously, this dog sleeps just as much if not more than cats do).

Driving home, I began to worry that she’d be all finicky about the rain and would refuse to go outside, and then she’d end up peeing or whatever somewhere in the house, but then I remembered that she’s a normal dog (i.e., not my mother’s dogs) and she actually *likes* the water, as evidenced by her peaceful demeanor when she gets bathed. And indeed, she doesn’t mind the rain, as I found out when I took her outside.

She’s taken to walking around the house with her froggy in her mouth, whining like a banshee with hiccups. It’s enough to make me want to take that frog and throw it over the back wall. I love this dog, but JESUS CHRIST, she can whine with the best of them.

Anyway. That’s all. And I’ve got another month to get O.S looking right. I refuse to officially launch that sucker until I’ve modified its CSS.

*I’ve had HSI since January. I only just cancelled my AOL account yesterday. Waste of money? You betcha. But that’s how bad I am with cancelling shit. I amaze myself every month when I remember to get my bills paid on time.

This dog’s down with the clover, yo

I’ve told the story a number of times already about how my freckles mean I’m Irish and all, which actually kind of made this year’s St. Patty’s a little bit more fun to celebrate. That, and, you know, the whole 21-years-old and I-actually-drink-now stuff, too.

What’s more fun is the realization that my dog is one-quarter Irish.

See, according to the shelter, Gracie is half-Lab, half-hound. What kind of hound? Black-and-tan (coonhound), reads the paper. So she’s half Black-and-tan. And all beer-savvy people know that a black-and-tan is half Guinness, and everyone knows that Guinness is "Ireland’s national drink" (Google the phrase and see for yourself). So there you have it. My dog is 1/4 Irish.

Here she is, my dog with the funny eyes, suffering at the hands of my boredom, wearing a Bailey’s necklace (which, had she been a boy dog, I so totally would have named her):

Img_0319

Canine feminism

Last weekend, I took Gracie to my parents’ house because my mother was in town and was dying to meet this dog.

I was treated to foreshadowing as to what it’s going to be like once I have kids. My mother’s "Grandma" genes are awake and ready to do damage.

In other words, Gracie was spoiled absolutely rotten. Besides the two edible treats she was given in the first half-hour we were there, my mom found a "doggie Christmas stocking" that was full of stuff for dogs like a dog brush and dog chew toys and other things, like, I don’t know, dog porn. But she got out the chew toys and gave them ALL to Gracie, who promptly gave me a look as if to say, "And I’m living with YOU again, why?"

When I collected Gracie on Sunday to bring her back to my house, I was relegated to taking home containers of treats for her, as well as some of the aforementioned chew toys. One of them looks like a mutant pink porcupine. The other looks like this:

Img_0303

Yeah. That comment about the dog porn doesn’t sound so ridiculous anymore, does it?

And you could say, oh, what a dirty mind, it’s an innocent little chew toy, why do you have to make everything so damn sexual all the time? But LOOK AT IT, PEOPLE. If it couldn’t be any more obvious, NOTE THE FACE. Where do faces go? ON THE HEAD. Note the strategic placement of the suspiciously shaped stem, the plumpness of the base. This toy is also a squeaky toy, which means it has a hole to let the air squeak through. I’m surprised the hole is at the bottom of this toy and not at the tip– er, the top. But maybe that would have been taking it one step too far.

While Gracie has fun playing with what I’ve deemed The Phallus:

Img_0304s

…she also has no problems telling The Phallus to shove it, and in THIS household, the females would be in charge, thank you very much.

Img_0306s

Img_0307s

Sassafrass

Despite the leash that was clipped onto her collar and kept her from straying too far– or rather, too close to other dogs– I knelt down beside her in the lobby and pleaded, soothingly, quietly, "Stay, stay, stay. Be a good girl, good girl, stay, please stay…" She looked at me with those beautiful, almond-shaped eyes and wagged her tail placidly and licked me.

Less than half-an-hour later, I would stand over her as she lay on the examining table (all 85 pounds of her), burying my face in her shaggy body and weeping uncontrollably, fingers tangled desperately in her fur, trying to hold onto something that was no longer allowed to be mine. I could feel her chest slowly rise and fall beneath my head, each movement reassuring me that she was still alive, each movement warning me that her end was ever nearer.

*****

Sassa

This is Sassafrass, my beautiful Australian Shepherd/Labrador Retriever mix, my first baby girl. I found her– or did she find me?– in the late summer of 2002, and I brought her home and proclaimed her mine, even though I was getting ready to go back to college and I would be living in a small condo with my sister, who already had a dog of her own. I didn’t care– this dog had crawled whimpering into my heart, and in a short amount of time, she would win over the endlessly forgiving love of the rest of my family.

Sassa grew up and proved herself both intelligent and sweet. She had a loving disposition toward people and a curious disposition toward other animals– cats in particular. She had a passion for cats and was forever trying to corner one. The sight alone of a cat would send her into joyful convulsions, her whole body wiggling and trembling in anticipation, nearly asphyxiating herself from hysterically sniffing her way toward the feline target. The cats always evaded her pursuit, but I know had she ever gotten one to stay put, the only way she would have killed it would have been by licking it to death.

She eventually ended up at my parents’ house, where she quickly established herself as the alpha dog. Though she made it clear that she reigned supreme, her dominance did not equivocate violence, and though she growled if another dog came near her while she was eating, if we ever tried to remove the treat or toy or meal, we would meet no resistance from her. Indeed, one of her more irritating qualities was her slack jaw– after eating or drinking, she would leave trails of food or water as she moved away from the dish.

In time, however, she changed. Not entirely, but– enough, as though one day, she simply woke up and something in her snapped. She would growl menacingly, entirely unprovoked, and then the growls led to attacks, and always out of the blue. The first time she drew blood, my mother debated whether to put Sassa to sleep to avoid further attacks, but her love for Sass wouldn’t allow such a drastic measure. We thought it was entirely behavioral and thereby cureable, and we resolved to handle the situation in a more positive way.

Throughout the next year, there were a few more incidents, some minor, some alarming. When we bought the house in San Diego, it was decided that Sass would move down there to live with my sister and her dogs, with whom Sassa enjoyed playing. We thought it was just my mother’s dogs that set her off, that she would be fine once separated from them.

She adapted easily to the San Diego house and we seemed to have been proven right– until she began attacking my sister’s dogs, too. The epsiodes were still intermittent, still unprovoked, still painfully difficult for us to understand. Cassie, whom Sassa had taken in as her own when the former was just a puppy, took to hiding under the bed in fear of Sassa’s presence.

Just this weekend, my sister drove up to Vegas with her crew of four dogs in order to drop off Cassie, who needed a surgical procedure which was far less expensive here than it was in California.

Early Saturday morning, Sassa attacked without warning, advancing on my mother’s oldest and favorite dog. The resulting injuries were blood and a dislocated eye, which the vets could not save and had to remove.

And though it broke my mother’s heart to accept it, she knew, right away, what had to be done. And as soon as I heard about the attack, I knew, as well.

*****

About 26 hours after the attack, my mother and my sister put Sassa in the car and drove to the animal hospital. I took off from Summerlin and met them there. At approximately 10:30 a.m., an assistant came out and took us into the waiting room. We waited, and in the silence, I remembered her life. I remembered teaching her to sit using her then-favorite treat, a cow hoof. I remembered how I was the only one who could ever make her laugh, rolling her onto her back and straddling her, shaking my head and my hair in her face while rubbing her belly. I remembered how she liked to stand between my legs. I remembered coming home from school to the enthusiastic wags of her plumy tail. And amidst all the memories, the tears began slipping down my cheeks.

The doctor came in, somber and apologetic. I found myself wishing he were cold and distant, wishing he didn’t understand how hard this was because his sadness only contributed to the unbearable pain in my chest. He explained the process and had us get Sassa to lie on top of the examining table. She willingly sat and watched as the vet shaved her front paw, where he would inject the first round of anaesthesia.

My hands never left her after getting her on top of that table. The first injection over, I tightened my hold on her, unable to believe this was it and at the same time, all too aware of the reality of the situation.

As the drowsiness began to hit, she lay down on the table, rolling onto her side. It was then that I buried myself in her fur, whispering, over and over again, "Good girl, good girl, good girl my baby Sassa." I kissed her repeatedly, murmuring in her ear that I loved her. My mother and sister stood on either side of me and I could hear them crying, and I felt selfish for throwing myself on top of Sass and making her less accessible to them, but I couldn’t bring myself to move. I couldn’t let go.

I held on for dear life, and then– and then– in the span of a breathless second, she was gone. The doctor pronounced the end, but it wasn’t until they asked if I wanted some time alone with her that I truly lost it and the sobs broke loose. Everyone left the room, and I remained standing at the table, cradling Sassa’s motionless body.

I kissed her face, her cheek, the top of her nose, and stroked her head and ran my fingers through her wavy black coat. I continued to tell her I loved her, hoping she had heard me before and hadn’t died thinking I didn’t, hoping she could hear me still and knew that I always will. Hoping she had heard my mother tearfully explain: "I’m doing this because I love you. I don’t want it to get to the point where I hate you."

I don’t know how I was able to tear myself away, to pry my fingers off her body and walk away. Somehow, I did. I’m still trying to convince myself that what I left in that room, was not my dog, that it was just her body and all the love and life and joy and wonder that was at her core, is in a better place. Is in a better body that doesn’t have such a devastating chemical imbalance.

I don’t always believe in God or heaven, but right now, the only way I can begin to cope is by believing that I’ll be reunited with her someday, that there is a god who is understanding enough to forgive her all her trespasses and remember all in her that was good, who will grant her entrance into everlasting grace.

*****

There are moments now when I am so grateful for Gracie, who quietly endures my tears and rests her head and paws in my lap, patiently waiting for me to pull myself together while letting me mourn. But there are also moments when her existence in my life heightens my pain, because in the process of loving her, I remember loving Sass. As well, there are moments when I feel guilty for loving Gracie, as though letting another dog into my heart somehow pushes Sassa out.

Oh, my Sassa. I love you, baby girl. Be good for me, wherever you are.

The seventh day

After today, it’ll have been a full week since I got Gracie, and let me tell you, it’s been a *long* week, full of ups and downs and panicking and stress and joy, but joy that is all the while overshadowed by more panic and stress lodged in the back of my mind.

I worry I’m not giving her a happy life, that I’m entirely too selfish to have a dog. I work all day, and when I come home, I’m too tired to throw myself into a frantic play session with her, and it’s usually another two or three hours before I’m ready to take her on her night walk. And while I’ve heard that walks are times of bonding between owner and pet, I can’t help but think this dog couldn’t care less who was at the other end of her leash, she’s just happy to be outside and on the prowl. And I don’t let her sleep on the bed because 1) it’s too high, 2) I’m in the process of crate-training her, 3) she’s kind of big, and 4) I don’t want her to get used to sleeping on the bed, only to flip out when she has to be relegated to the floor or her crate because someone else is taking her spot next to me.

Then there’s the frustration of change and adaptation and, namely, training. I couldn’t assume that Gracie was housetrained when I adopted her, but I did hold out some hope, and in a few days, all that hope was dashed to the ground. Maybe she was once upon a time, but nearly a month in a shelter or this sudden change of environment, or maybe both, were enough to put her back at square one. Well. Maybe square two, but we’re talking out of a total of at least 10 squares here.

We start training either early this evening or tomorrow morning, whenever I can motivate myself to get dressed and get my butt out the door. I know obedience classes take time, training takes time, solutions TAKE TIME, but dammit, I’m used to getting or making solutions NOW, and suffice to say, I’m not very good at waiting patiently for things to change, especially when I depserately want, crave, *need* that change. Throw in my habit of diametrical thinking and you’ve got yourself a loose cannon. After two doses of medicine, the dog’s still not better? She’ll be sick forever. Four days and she still doesn’t understand that OUTSIDE is where she needs to go to the bathroom? She’ll never be housetrained! And I won’t even start on the whole digestive system business.

And then there’s the worry that she’s too lonely, that I’m too boring a companion for her, that I’m too silent for her. I’ve become so used to being on my own that I’m not nearly as verbal as I used to be, and while technically I’m not alone anymore because I’ve got her trailing me from room to room, unless she’s sleeping or crated or occupied with a toy, I’ve yet to master the art of one-way conversation. So it’s still pretty quiet in this house, and I stress out imagining she was happier at the shelter because there were other dogs there, there were plenty of people and noise and sensory information sources all day, every day. Here, she pretty much sleeps. And I refuse to take her to a dog park until her bordatella has cleared up.

It makes me wonder if, for all my planning and analyzing and list-making and thinking ahead of time, I still made the wrong decision in adopting a dog. The Guy has tried to placate me by pointing out how happy she’s made me, but it’s hard to remember that initial inundation of happiness when all I can think about is, well, everything I’ve listed above. And I stress and I stress and I stress, and I reach the point where I think things will never get better, and even though things aren’t *that* bad with her right now, the notion that it’ll never improve, that these problems will be problems for the rest of time, just sinks me into something bordering on despair and the overwhelming prospect of it all sends me into a catatonic state. I want to scream, to run away, to leave everything and start anew elsewhere.

I was at work the other day when I realized, *I’ve* been set back at square one. Everything getting a dog was supposed to help me move away from– and she did, for the first day-and-a-half– is now only thrust more violently onto me. That instinct to flee is awake and screaming inside of me once again.

But last night, after I’d played fetch with her throughout the main part of the house, we went into my bedroom and I got out her brush; she saw this and promptly went to her bed, which is where I always groom her. As I was massaging and brushing her coat, she gave a luxurious stretch and closed her eyes in contentment, and I thought to myself, maybe she isn’t so unhappy after all. She has good food and plenty of treats and fun toys, she gets two walks a day (she’ll eventually have three once my energy levels pick up again), she gets bathed and brushed on a regular basis, she has two incredibly nice beds to sleep on, and once she’s housetrained, she’ll have the whole house to play in. It could be better– she could be in a home where someone is with her during the whole day and there are kids and cats and other dogs to play with– but maybe, maybe, maybe it’s not so bad. And maybe in the future, someone *will* be at home during the day with her and I’ll have cats or kids or other dogs to fill her social needs. She’s only two years old. We’ve got more than a decade of possibilities ahead of us.

Right now, it’s a little after noon and I’ve spent the last hour or so playing with her, throwing a slobbery red tennis ball across the tiled floor and watching her slip and slide as she attempts to retrieve it. She’s sleeping on her extra-comfortable dog bed out here in the living room and I’m sitting on the hard, hard floor next to her, playing with her feet and her ears and waiting for the laundry to finish drying and trying to sort out my day.

And thinking, maybe it won’t be so bad. Thinking I should start to put all those worries to rest.