Monday, May 02, 2005

Spring greetings from the dog groomer

One bi-annual ritual is taking my dog Spice to the grooming parlor. Spice, as you can see in the photograph, has hair as wooly and soft as a sheep. In fact, sometimes I think I should have him cloned many times so I can have a flock because I'd probably earn far more money flogging his wool than writing novels. (Don't email, I'm only kidding.)

Spice is sixteen, has arthritis in his hindquarters and is partially blind and deaf, but still very much alive. He's been taken to the same parlor since he was a puppy and I like the set up a lot; they have a large white Cockatoo in a cage whose only vocabulary is 'ello, ello' and 'goodbye,' and I'm always compelled to say 'hello' back, regardless of whether it understands the greeting or not, and the proprietor, a very pleasant woman, always greets the doggies before her paying customers. She's also a brilliant groomer and, after the first ever cut Spice had, when she did him like a toy poodle and presented him to Larry with mauve ribbons dripping from his ears and he took one look at him and told her to, "Get him back inside and shear him tight and lose the ribbons," she's been very consistent.

Her only mildly disturbing quality is that she could be more diplomatic in her greeting of older animals in my opinion. For the last two years, she's been greeting Spice with, "And you're still around, are you?" consider those words carefully and ask how am I, as his owner, supposed to respond to this? Always, I smile sunnily and mutter, "Yes...Yes he's still here," and think simultaneously of the countless precautions taken throughout the harsh, dark winter to make sure he stays in the 'here'.

This winter I had a particularly bad scare because he woke me up at three o'clock one horridly rainy morning and I let him out into our back yard which slopes down to the woods. Ten minutes later, he hadn't returned so I went outside and my heart almost burst from my chest because I couldn't see him. I shouted to Larry to come out and then ran like some chased victim in a gothic horror flick about the woods calling out his name. What was worse, some neighbors had told us a few weeks prior that they'd heard there was a coyote in the area. To cut the story short, after much whippings in the face by wild roses and trips by Larry about the neighborhood in the truck, we did one last reconnoiter of the house, heard whimpering, and found him inside a basement window well. He'd fallen in, though sustained no injury.

So you can imagine the things running through my mind as I respond to the groomer. Of course, I realize she's not thinking and just trying to make polite conversation, to reestablish a kinship of sorts after the winter has passed. But, as the English would say in preposterous situations like this, "I mean, really!"

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