Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The sky had finally cleared up and bits of blue reclaimed it rightful place from the gray clouds. Barry was happily trotting next to me, sniffing rotting leaves and peeking under bushes for his nemesis, the rabbit. I had my iPod on, listening to the summery songs of Jimmy Buffett and walking in time to the tropical beat. The wind was beginning to pick up, the chill made my arm hair stand on end. Autumn was roaring in.

This summer had been particularly difficult for me. I was unemployed for the majority of it and the lack of funds and the feeling of uselessness made getting out of bed seem at times an act of futility. Barry, with his incessant sniffing at my closed eyes and licking the insides of my nose, was my alarm clock. His bladder made all of my lazy mornings irrelevant. But I credit my pursuant pooch with maintaining my sanity. By attending to his needs and succumbing to his unending wishes to play, he has kept me from the dark shadows of depression and self-imposed exile.

I noticed the little white fuzz-ball walking towards us before Barry did. A sweaty, balding man was crouched over, busy picking up his puppy's poop along the walking path. The tiny cockapoo was standing perfectly still, its black eyes standing out like small bits of coal. She was focused on Barry; him still oblivious, staring up the trunks of sapling trees, trying to figure out how to reach the birds hiding perched in the branches.

The cockapoo's high pitched yelp got Barry's attention and he was off running, stretching his retractable leach to the full fifteen feet and almost yanking my arm out of the socket in the process. Back and forth he ran, arcing left and right of the pup who was being dragged in the opposite direction from her owner.

Like David preparing to slay Goliath, I was turning in forward circles swinging Barry around like a slingshot at the end of his leash. His ears and tongue were flapping and his eyes never left the other dog retreating away. He never saw it coming.

Barry was making his third counter-clockwise rotation around me, when he met up with one of the sapling trees. The side of his head bounced off the narrow trunk like a rubber Superball. He stopped for just a moment to shake off his embarrassment and continued on his orbit.

I burst out laughing. I reeled him in to rub his furry head but he seemed completely unaffected by his trauma. For him, there was so much out in the world to discover than to be bothered by such a minor setback. Just shake it off and keep on running.

Funny, the things you can learn from a dog.

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