And it was entirely up to me. *
(* For total accuracy, insert “pretty much” before “entirely.”)
This is not my typical kind of story, because it is not primarily about what happened. Normally… you know, I did three posts on the frustrating week I spent getting a new “Registration Slip” for my post-accident, designated “Salvage” car. In that case, there were personally experienced facts and I simply connected the journalistical dots. (Unlike fiction, where you connect the dots you made up yourself.)
From a “things that happened” standpoint, this story is not, selecting a word wisely excluded from the dictionary, that “facts-inating.” But between the mundane events, something wonderful happened, and I shall do my limited best to communicate what that was.
Backstory: Rachel and family were spending the night out of town and she asked if we’d be willing to dog-sit their dog Bean. Having collectively turned down a previous two-night caninal sleepover, we willingly, with reservations, acquiesced to the one.
I was either away or taking a nap – which is another way of being “away” – when Bean was delivered to the house, but when I returned – or was it “returned”? – it was now time for his walk.
Bean is a little, golden-brown Chihuahua-plus-other-things who barks protectively whenever anyone – friend or foe – approaches the house, which is a problem – for the ears, and an annoyingly greater problem when Rachel’s children are asleep, because when he barks, they wake up.
I like Bean. I appreciate his exuberant, animal energy. It’s not that I’d want a dog – or any other pet – likely to die before I do. Because of that. And also because a dog with exuberant energy needs a dog owner with exuberant energy, so the dog can run naturally free, as, I believe, dogs need to. I can’t run. Never could. So I would never be able to keep up. I’d unfasten their leash and they’d race off almost immediately to “Lost.”
If I could find a dog guaranteed to live longer than I will – and if the dog’s young enough that now becomes more of a “coin flip” – maybe it could work. Otherwise, who needs more funerals?
Being in sole charge of an animal, or even more so for a baby, which I have written about in the past, the mind – if it’s my mine – runs immediately to
“What did you do!?!”
Such thoughts extract much of the joy out of “walking the dog.”
THE DOG: “You know I am effectively helpless, don’t you?”
ME: “I do.”
“Placing my survival entirely in your hands.”
“I got it.”
“And if you blow it, it’s “Lights out” for me and numerous loved ones will never speak to you again?”
“I am fully aware of the responsibility.”
“All right then. Let’s go!”
Down a street we go, speeding cars passing closely on our left, one of them maybe with a suddenly free Bean’s name on it.
Which actually happened. Not dead Bean. But the “suddenly free” part. Fortunately, we were at a nearby park at the time, where Bean could “do his business” in comfortable grassy surroundings.
Standing by as he assiduously “marked his territory”, I sudddenly found Bean disconnected from his leash, making him an immediate candidate for “disappeared down the street”, or worse – “Call ‘Animal Control.’”
An authoritative voice exited my throat, shouting, “Bean! Stop!”
He did. And I more securely reconnected his leash.
Learning two valuable things from that momentary crisis:
That I can respond in an emergency.
And that I sincerely care about that dog.
During my blog writing time, hearing it quiet downstairs, I took regular breaks to see if “The Beanster” was still alive. To me, “quiet” sends contrasting messages: “I’m okay.” And “I’m in heaven.”
Turned out, he was fine every time.
Sometimes, he would scamper upstairs, perching himself comfortably on the couch-bed in my office as I worked. Later, he appeared in the basement, lolling on the downstairs couch as I practiced the piano. Bean may have actually cared about neither of those pursuits. He may have cared only about the couches.
Still, I appreciated the company.
I had to leave Bean a while for a pre-arranged dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant called La Vecchia. (“Recommended” when you are in Santa Monica and have a nagging itch for “Italian.”) When I got home, I shared my leftover agnello ragout sauce with Bean. Even though it meant less for me for tomorrow’s lunch.
I believe that’s called friendship.
At night, when I went upstairs, Bean snoozed contentedly on top of the living room couch. Later on, when I got up to go to the bathroom, I found him lounging on the chaise in our bedroom. When I woke up the following morning and felt something strange down by my ankles, I found a sleeping Bean, nestled comfortably under the blanket, a warming, furry hot water bottle.
I did not move him. Instead, I propped myself up in bed and began meditating, hoping Bean’s proximate demeanor would… I don’t know, I wanted Bean’s unworried spirit to transfuse into my own.
Something in the foregoing events made temporary dog sitting an “I’m glad I did it” experience. I cannot precisely explain why. I just know this. A dog came for a visit. And I felt happier as a result.
I hope Bean has a similar recollection. But I am skeptical. At best, he might remember the couches. But he would unlikely recall me.
So that’s the story.
Not much really happened.
And yet, somehow, it did.