Driving home from campus today, a woman holding a leash on the side of the road, far ahead: I know immediately by her posture, the angle of her head, the infinite patience and gentleness she’s emoting that at the other end of that leash I will see an elderly dog.
Closer, and yes – some kind of ancient poodle/spaniel thing, blind eyes cataract-covered, snuffling a dandelion. I know that woman will stand there until that dog’s nose is full, and she’ll be happy doing it.
Increasingly, I am a member of this kinship group. We recognize each other, even at distance. Gilgamesh, curled sleeping in the seat next to me, has the same expression he wore as a sleeping puppy, all softness.
Today he woke a little arthritic. Did a headstand when I offered to bring him to work with me. Got catcalled by a pretty girl who leaned out her car window and shouted PUPPY! at his gray face, making him wag and giggle. Chased sticks. Told stupid jokes. Pulled the blankets off the bed. Slept much more than he used to. Had minor trouble on the stairs. Sat for his burger-remainder, wagging so hard I won’t need to sweep that whole part of the room this week. Filled me with infinite patience and gentleness and gratitude and awe and joy.
No repayment for what they give us is possible.
No dandelion too long.