Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser
Dogs have stories.
People have stories.
I saw her in the morning, on one of those
sites on the internet. I had gone for two
months without a dog. That was enough.
In the afternoon, I drove to the shelter,
an hour and a half, and asked to meet her.
A middle-aged woman went to the back,
to the place of cement and shiny metal, of
kennel rows and forlorn once-they-were-wolves
singing out their deep grief and longings.
The door opened. She slunk into the room
on her pink belly. I came to my knees
to greet her.
“Hello, pretty girl.”
She urinated on the floor. I lifted my right hand
to the nape of her neck, and began stroking
her soft fur, black and white, all the while saying
lovely things. She trembled and tried to make
herself smaller than her bones were able to go.
Beneath my fingertips, under her tight skin, rolled
hard round pellets, several, put there by a shotgun blast.
Trapped there. Part of her body.
“May I take her for a walk?”
Outside, she strained to the end of the nylon leash,
wild-eyed, scanning the woods and fields,
planning the direction and speed she would go,
should she break from what tethers her to this world.
Whenever we go hiking, she runs out ahead of
me on the trail – up the mountain or down. Every
so often she’ll stop, and look back, tongue lolling.
“Are you coming?!”
“Please, let’s keep going!”
“Yes. I’m coming.”
“I’m coming, pretty girl.”
She runs back down the path towards me, smiling,
coming nearly close enough for me to touch her, but
never close enough. There’s a glint in her eye. Her tail
is wagging. She turns, and bolts off again, full speed
ahead, and around the next bend.
I watch her go.
When I went back into the lobby, the woman
behind the counter looked anxious, embarrassed,
“We have lots of other dogs,” she said.
“I can bring you several more to meet.”
“No need,” I said, handing her the adoption
form and the fee.
“We understand each other.”
© 2015-2016/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Conversations with Mary"
To be published by Talking Waters Press in 2017
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