Dog a Day
Bailey and Cheryl
On the homestretch of a really rough year, I found myself scone fat and summer-heat sluggish, with a sciatic nerve reminding me what happens when you give up. Ignoring everything but the most necessary tasks, and gluing yourself to a laptop, searching for…well, I no longer remembered what I was searching for.
I couldn’t sit there searching anymore, not because I recognized the stagnation was bordering on non-clinical depression, but because the sitting was causing a feeling of having a lead pencil stuck about 2 inches into my thigh. So I got up.
I decided to try at least a short daily walk.
At first my daily walks were really daily limps, with lots of stopping to breathe through the pain. I noticed that one of the highlights of my daily walk was watching the dogs who were out on their walkies as well. There was always one who made me smile and find the courage for a few more steps.
Sometimes I even smiled out loud. (Isn’t it funny and sort of backwards how people who are alone and smiling in public draw stares but those who are scowling don’t?
Although, thinking back, maybe it was because I was hunched over, pawing at my back, wheezing, AND then the smiling, too. Maybe that was it.)
Every day I imagined clicking a few stealthy pics of all those flappy ears and drooly smiles. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of one dog every day. I would post it on social media as a sort of accountability scheme, instructing my friends to call me out if I day went by that I didn’t post a dog.
I never actually did it, though, because that would be a commitment. The sciatica and my motivation for walking were nearly gone anyways.
On the day I saw Bailey, I was full of adrenaline and elation because I realized that my leg didn’t hurt at all! I was on my third pain-free lap around the reservoir when I saw her. She was a little brown blur of fluttering fur and her tail waving high, announcing her like the flags we put on the sissy bars of our banana seat bikes when I was little.
I didn’t really think about accountability or long commitments to walking every day of the year - even for example, January 29, which would surely be freezing or slushy or both. I wasn't thinking at all! I realized this when Bailey's friend Cheryl jumped a mile at the sight of me. I'd forgotten about my earbuds and was doing a loud scream over a song no one could hear but me:
“Hi, helloooooo. Excuse me. May I take a picture of your dog?”
Cheryl slowly caught on as I blurted my story of back pain and smiling at dogs. She was very nice and tried to help me by asking Bailey to sit. I realized the shot I'd wanted had already passed. I wish I could have captured her tail-flag and tresses all blowing in the breeze as they were when I first spotted her.
She’s still a very pretty girl, though, and has the honor of being my first Dog a Day.