Hope arrives today. She is a faded-caramel senior, female Cocker Spaniel I’ve nicknamed “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” who makes me smile when I notice her watching me with her “I see you” brown eyes and silky, hopeful wag.
Her person is traveling and has entrusted Hope’s care to me while she is away. This beneficial “dog in the house” arrangement has grown since my Hailey died in March. Hope is one of the Good Dogs who comes to stay and play and fire my heart.
I float in their canine essence. These transitory hearts and minds bring a nurturing structure to my day, reminders to step away from the computer and go sniff the wind, and inflate neglected parts of me that have numbed.
When Mia and Vita visit, my days are always brighter. Mia, a prancing Italian Greyhound, cleverly winds up other canines whose bigger bodies hide her troublemaking antics. She is a consummate snuggler.
Vita, a Shepherd mix, is stepping slower these days but she never fails to convince me that her “I’ve got two, you can have one” game of toss and retrieve is the moment’s priority.
The newcomers, Artie and Julia, bring me new chapters to explore. Artie is an ancient Pom who motors around the meadow like a Roomba, and Julia is a “gee, ain’t life grand” poodle pup.
Tottering Tully, a senior Lakeland Terrier, refuses to acknowledge his body’s decline during his meadow sniffaris, revving up his mobility engine with whatever cylinders are willing. I frequently check on him during his hours-long naps indoors, when he resembles an unstuffed toy dog. Yes, still breathing.
And there is Tavi, a young Silken Windhound who runs like an envious wind. He is enthusiastic and forgiving of a dog’s “I really don’t want to play” signals, working this puzzle until he thinks of another way to convince them.
These temporary companions have arrived throughout the year, their steady river of comfort and dogness heals my heart. They offer what I miss. And they agreeably head home when guardians appear as if by magic.
Something unexpected has surfaced in between the transition from one dog guest (or two) to the next. I confess to enjoying a few days off, or several, when I am not as dog-dependent. There is freedom in taking off without arranging dog care. I look around to confirm that I am the only one who needs my attention.
And I wonder when or if my path will connect with a heart that dances with mine.
For now, Hope arrives today.