Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses - Lessons Learned from my Dog

If you know me at all, you know that I’ve been completely besotted by a big, goofy brown dog with beautiful amber-colored eyes. From the day that colossal jerk mysterious benefactor dropped her off in our front yard, she has lived in my home and in my heart. I am head-over-heels, make-you-act-silly, can’t-stand-to-be-parted, totally in love with her.

Even when she comes to me 532 times a day asking to go out and play. (Yes, asking. She talks to me.) It doesn’t matter to her if Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are about to kiss and live happily ever after. She doesn’t care if it’s raining a rain like Noah saw. She’s sorry, but undeterred, by the fact that a little man with a jackhammer is at work in my head trying to break up the concrete of my brain. Gracie wants to play! If I try to put her off, she’ll walk around the kitchen table/island, jump up to look out of the back door and then come back to sit at my feet, where she’ll gaze up at me with those big wet, puppy-dog eyes. (What did you expect?!) Unable to resist her for more than a minute or two, I stop what I’m doing and say, “Let me get my shoes.” When she hears these words, she starts laughing and singing and dancing around the kitchen, because she knows that when I put on shoes, it means that she’s worn me down and we’re going outside. (Well, maybe she doesn’t laugh and sing, but she does dance.)

Out the back door we go. I take up my position at the top of the deck steps, while Gracie lumbers on into the yard. There, she scoops up two tennis balls and heads back to me, looking very much like some kind of mutant, radioactive chipmunk with huge neon-green cheeks. Just before she reaches the bottom step, she turns and proceeds to trot and canter around the back yard like a riderless dressage horse performing before the judges. Back and forth she prances between the swing and the sweetgum tree. When she’s satisfied that I’ve watched and appreciated her presentation, she runs up on the deck and doesn’t give me the balls. You see, as brilliant as Gracie is, she failed Puppy 101 because, while she was very good at fetch, she never quite caught on to release. Meaning that every time I reach for the balls, she turns her head away. (Just like I do when JD3 is trying to kiss my cheek after he’s said something really stupid and made me not like him very much.) As we’re playing this reach-and-turn game, her tail is beating out a rhythm on an old chest that sits there patiently waiting to be refinished. Todda, todda, todda. She wags and turns. Todda, todda, todda. I reach and miss. Eventually, drawing on my super powers, I use lightning speed and gymnast-like agility to reach over and grab both balls from her mouth. I need them both so I can throw one and use the other as a bargaining chip. Now, we can play!

Sometimes, I throw a ball high into the air, sending her bounding off of the deck after it. She spins around once or twice while she tracks the ball. When she has it in sight, she throws herself toward the sky like a dolphin at play and catches it before it hits the ground. Other times, I throw it low so that it bounces a few times on its journey to the back fence, which is covered with honeysuckle and neglected rose bushes that, not realizing they’re neglected, are blooming anyway. As soon as the ball leaves my hand, Gracie dashes after it like a hunter in pursuit of survival. I keep throwing and she keeps fetching until the tennis balls reach MSC (Maximum Slime Capacity.) Then we go inside, get a treat and have a little rest.

One day last week, on a particularly pretty day, we had gone outside to play. Having made it through the preliminaries, we were in the I-throw-the-ball-and-Gracie-brings-it-back part of the game. I took the ball in my right hand, drew it back, and like the world’s greatest bowler that I’m not, sent it bumping along the grass towards the fence. Gracie, like she always does, took off after it at a dead run, making me worry that she wouldn’t be able to stop in time and would end up with her snout wedged firmly in the tiny bit of chain link that wasn’t covered in vines. But she was able. She came to an abrupt stop, ignored the ball and stuck her nose right in the center of one the roses. She stood there for almost a minute, smelling first one and then another of those dark, pinkish-red flowers. Then she picked up the ball and leisurely trotted back to the deck. We played for a few more minutes and then went back inside for our treats and our rest. But not before I realized that I had learned a valuable lesson from Miss Gracie.

What I learned was that, even in the middle of the busiest of days, there’s always time to play a little. And that, even when you’re in hot pursuit of something very important to you, you need to stop and smell those roses.

Once again, I'm a day late in joining everybody at
Chatting At The Sky in unwrapping the special in the middle of the ordinary. If you click on the button below, you can go read the stories of those more punctual than I.


southerninspiration said...

Awww, very cute story and quite well written!!! Great job...and she sounds quite the little charmer!


emily said...

I totally feel like I was there, in the kitchen while she danced and sang and laughed. So great! And you are right: even on the busiest days if I'm honest, there is always a little time to play.

Anonymous said...

"honeysuckle and neglected rose bushes that, not realizing they’re neglected, are blooming anyway"This is just one example of the phrasing you always choose that makes me jealous.

Doodles said...

Cleverly written as one has pointed when you are out there smelling the roses or playing fetch you and Gracie will feel the presence of all your friends there because you have painted such a wonderful scene.

OggieMamma said...

Wow. WOW. Thank you so much for letting us share another part of your life. Gracie is a very smart little girl.

Julie said...

What a great story. I could not imagine my life without my pets.

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