The Little Heroine

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She thinks she thoughts in butterflies
that floated on the breeze
Where weightless words their clamor sound
she sinks the deeper on her knees.
                              Sometimes, I just take the dictation, folks.

So, yesterday I spotted the unmistakable contour of greyhound ribs as I approached the coffee shop.  Sorja (or something like that), was sitting on the long covered porch outside the cafe, with her friend, the black lapdog Slick (this name I am sure of), and two humans whose names I never did ask.  And when I say sitting, of course, I mean she was standing with her nose at exactly the height of the table top, looking hopeful with large, dark eyes.   Slick, being about 10% Sorja’s size, was nestled majestically on his human’s lap, looking serene.  I gathered the details of Sorja’s life while scratching her white velvety haunches – a breeder, from Dubuque, finally adopted at age nine.   Her life had not involved any table top surfing, of that I am sure.  Not wanting to be too much of a greyhound stalker, after a brief mention of my own retired racers, I left Sorja in peace and went inside to get my coffee.

As I waited for my 3 espresso shots (and yes, I let them give me the fourth for free),  a little tide of loss and joy surged through me.  I thought of Sorja waiting so expectantly for Something Good to Happen for Dogs.  I know just how this feels – I experience it myself, an emotional undercurrent so deep I have to close my eyes and focus on it more or less everyday. (I call this lovingkindness meditation, though Sorja might call it A Nap.)  I looked around the cafe for something that could make Sorja’s dream come true.  Not quiche, not a peanut butter sandwich.  In the cooler, below well ordered rows of colorful cans and bottles of organic bubbling sugar water, I spotted Something Good for Dogs.  String cheese would do nicely.

“Can Sorja have string cheese?”  I asked her Mom.  “Oh, yes!” she said.  Sorja had her wide, dark eyes already fixed alertly on my hands.   She had felt the connection of expectation engage between us, like the moments before the gates crack open and all the world is just this chance to Catch The Bunny.  The promising crinkle of plastic peeling apart held her attention.  Here was Something Good for Dogs.   With flat, polite teeth, she took a pea sized nibble from between my fingers and looked back up at me, as I gave Slick a little treat, too.   I laid the remaining cheese in front of her Mom. “You can give her the rest,” I said.  (No one appreciates a stranger who makes their dog sick from too many treats).  Sorja moved her head towards the cheese, drawn magnetically to the hope of the next nibble., completely ignoring me as I said goodbye and left.

The obvious truth, that Sorja had not stopped expecting that something good might happen, no matter how long the wait, stirred up a painful loss – that I have come to the edge of my willingness to help where I see things have gone beyond me.   Sorja the Greyhound gave me a few moments of certainty that I knew how to make some creature happy, knew how to be good enough.   All it took, for both of us, was a little cheese.

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