…have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. I’m just writing about them.
Kirby and I hovered about half-an-inch above the ground this morning as we took our pre-dawn walk in the -2 degree F. tropical winter weather. We took turns floating past each other, semi-airborne on the crystalline path that sparkled under the fading streetlamps. It was so cold, we were exhaling what looked like fairy dust. Clap your hands if you believe! (That is, of course, if you can still feel them.)
Today is the FIRST DAY back to work of the New Year and there’s lots to do! A couple of meetings and a doctor’s appointment are on the calendar for today, along with a mountain of e-mails and phone calls to return. Big day! I’m feelin’ all purple-sassy today, so I shower and dress in some awesome smaller-sized aubergine business attire (as I’m still shrinking) and bid Kirby a beautiful day.
My breath catches as I make my way to the outside garage, enter the code and… nothing. It’s frozen shut. Again, more deliberately this time. Dang it’s cold! I try exhaling deeply onto the frozen keypad to warm it up. A neighbor stares at me suspiciously as he skates to his car, so I cease and desist. No, I am not making love to my garage door keypad. I nonchalantly shimmy over to the manual garage-door handle and pull. It moves exactly one inch. Locked. And I don’t have the key.
My car is in this garage, and there is no back door. Enter code with left hand. Enter code with right hand. Enter code quickly… slowly… ultimate slo-mo. Open the cover. Close the cover. Enter code again. Stand back and stare daggers at it. Watch my hands turn blue. Decide to consult the internet.
As I open the door to my condo, Kirby bounds down the stairs and out the door to greet me as he does at the end of every day. Whimpering and turning himself inside-out with the sheer ecstasy of seeing me again, he runs circles around himself just outside the front door. “Kirby, m’Booder,” I crooned, “It’s only been a few minutes. Calm down, Bubba’ahs!”
“But it FEELS like forever,” he whimpers! “I… I… I…”
“I know, Hummus. It’s alright. Come on inside. It’s too cold out here.” I pet him and give him the okie-dokey to go upstairs. He’s so polite! When he enters the door, he waits on the foyer landing for permission to go up the stairs. Where he learned this behavior, I don’t know. I didn’t teach it to him.
Kirby is a rescue dog: 11 years-old now. I adopted him a little over a year ago: malnourished, lost, pitiful. I had rescued another dog off the street that October morning and was returning him to his vet to reunite with his owner. As I walked into the vet’s office, a scraggly-looking, champagne-tinted pup paced in a too-small cage in the corner of the reception room. On the top of the cage was a hastily hand-written sign, “Please take me home.”
I felt the lost dog being taken from my arms as I teetered there like a cardboard cutout, entirely transfixed by this sight. The pup in the cage had stopped pacing and merely looked at me, poised and completely calm, engulfing me in the most soulful deep-brown eyes I’ve ever seen. The world around me dissolved as I felt myself drawn to him like smoke through a pipe. I crouched down and he lifted his front paw.
You may now express the pent-up, “Awwww,” sound that is waiting for the light in your mental highway to turn green.
Tearing my eyes away in a fit of panic, I hissed, “I don’t need a dog! I have a cat. I don’t need a dog!” Stumbling back, I tried to stand. From somewhere deep in the back of his throat, he let out the vaguest, tiniest of whimpers, as his front paws did this little anxious dance at the cage wall.
Grawlixes, bleeps, Frenchiness and Cambronnes…and a wide variety of other quadriliterals and scatolinguistic creations of censorship all jammed in the exhaust of my social filter as I turned violent shades of red, purple, green… then deathly white.
“Are you OK,” one of the receptionists asked?
“Tell me about this dog,” I whispered. I even forgot to be polite about it.
Two-hours worth of failed attempts with the frozen garage door and I finally called a repair company. First important meeting at work: missed. Doctor’s appointment: missed. Burned my hand on the heating pad I was trying to use to warm up the keypad: ow. “The repairman,” the disembodied voice on the other end of the line chimed, would “not be able to make it out ’til about three o’clock.” Working from home today, I guess.
Kirby was beside himself. Over this two-hour period I had – in his mind – left for the day and returned home again no less than four times. I could practically hear him say, “Make up your mind, would ya! In or out?” I felt so guilty, I gave him a big bone to take his mind off the stress.
Kirby had been delivered to the Vet clinic where I found him by some do-gooder who found him wandering along a roadside. Based on his condition when he arrived, they estimated he had been wandering on his own for at least a couple of months. Dehydrated, malnourished, sick; cuts, bruises and lacerations; his pom-coat all but destroyed; he was a mess. They nursed him back to semi-health and scanned him for an ID chip. He had one, but it had never been registered.
This pup came all the way out west from Ohio (as the chip recorded)! How many times have I wished he could talk and tell me his story! As they gave me the low-down about this soulful pup, I melted deeper and deeper into the floor beside him. He laid down as I stroked his neck, matching his energy to mine exactly.
“I’m getting a dog,” I thought to myself. The pup lifted his head, smiled his crooked smile (they had to take some of his teeth), and cocked one ear as if to say, “I knew you’d come around!” I smiled crookedly back. (I’ve had teeth taken too.) After all he’d been through, I didn’t have the heart to change his name. They’d been calling him Kirby at the clinic, so I kept it. It fits him well enough.
A few months of TLC and here’s a shot of Kirby as we were out walking last April.
With this picture, I wrote:
Out walking with Kirby this morning. Up ahead, a cat crouches in the grass looking very smug. We approach. She doesn’t move. “That’s unusual,” I think, “These Ferrell cats tend to scat when people approach.” Then Kirby growls and makes a bee-line for the cat. “That’s unusual,” I think, “He’s usually so calm.” Kirby never attacks other animals unless they are acting aggressively. The cat arches her back and every hair bristles as she glares at us indignantly.
Then, Kirby sticks his nose in the grass and something hops! A black field mouse bounds away, running for its life.
“Come on, Kirby,” says I, “You just made an enemy with that cat by letting her breakfast go.”
“Naw,” says he, “I made a friend. That mouse needed help, and I helped it.”
Long pause as I consider this. “Yup. You’re right. Good Boy-Scout, Kirby. Good Dog.”
About three o’clock in the afternoon, the garage-door repairman drove up. I bid Kirby a beautiful day for the fifth time as he munched on his bone, ignoring me completely now. Punching in the garage door code for the two-hundredth-twenty-third time today, I simultaneously explained to the repairman what I thought was the problem. Before I finished my first sentence,… it opened right there on the spot.
Of course, it did.
Life is nothing but an ongoing adventure. You never know what today will bring.
Wishing you persuasively-poignant-pups and grievously-glaciated-garages that your days may be ever memorable.