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Writing Fiction - Chapter 13
Here's where Chapter 12 left you...
“C’mon Edgar, let’s take care of some business!” I told him.
And we did.
It was kind of fun actually having a companion to walk out and get the newspaper with me. As he did his doggie business, I looked away and gave him privacy. I talked to him while I made coffee. He slurped down his milk and bread while I ate my toast in a much neater, quieter way. I looked up the number for a vet and made an appointment for later in the morning.
I washed my face and brushed my teeth while Edgar had watched. I tried making the bed while he tried jumping in it. He tugged on the pillows and made growling noises.
I found myself laughing more than I had in a long time.
And I didn’t think it was even a bit crazy to be talking to a dog. He was such a good listener and never once told me I should be over my grief and moving on with my life.
In fact, I think I began falling in love with Edgar just a tiny bit in only a few hours.
And now the story continues...
Later in the morning, I told Edgar it was time to go to the vet. I’d never been to a vet and wasn’t quite sure how it would work. When the kids had been small, they’d always begged us to let them have a dog and I’d always used the age old excuses: A dog is a lot of work. Who’s going to feed it? Who’s going to clean up after it? Who’s going to take it for walks? And then I’d distracted them by letting them get a goldfish or a turtle or something. When each little scaly or shelled friend had ‘gone to the great pet shop in the sky’ I’d felt vindicated. It had hardly seemed worth the work and the pain to get attached to a furry friend and then have it … ummm…. ‘go away’.
Protecting my children from loss (and keeping extra chores to a minimum) had seemed like such a high priority, but in the short time since Edgar had invaded my life, I wondered if that had been the right decision. My husband and I’d endlessly argued the pros and cons of getting a dog. I’m sure you can figure out which side I’d been on, because in the end my stubbornness had won the battle. In retrospect, I wonder if the battle lost had actually been that of not letting our children learn the care and compassion that comes from having a four-legged friend.
But that was all water over the dam now. My life was so heaped with regrets from back then; adding a dog to the list of mistakes seemed redundant.
I’d shaken off those thoughts and, when I headed out to the car with Edgar, I saw my nosy neighbor at her window. I waved gaily to her, watched her mouth open into a perfect little ‘O’ of astonishment, and then opened the front passenger seat for my adorable little mutt.
He sat calmly on the front seat for a moment and then jumped up to place his paws on the door frame so he could see out the window. I told you he was a short little fella.
The vet’s office seemed very much like a pediatrician’s office, although the receptionist immediately handed me a leash and told me curtly to put my dog on it. I laughed to myself, thinking leashes might have been a good option for when my kids had been small and reluctant to go to the place they associated with getting shots.
I was thinking about kid’s shots and watching a very ugly cat hiss at its owner, when the receptionist called out Edgar’s name. For a mutt, he did a great job walking on the leash to the scale…11.5 pounds, thank you very much…and then over to the examination table.
The doggie doctor looked like he was about sixteen years old. I’d been noticing that for a few years now…medical people must be graduating at the age of 12 or something, because they just kept getting younger and younger. The doctor seemed to genuinely admire Edgar and he talked about confirmation and pedigrees and other doggie things.
I interrupted to tell him that I didn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about. I then informed him I’d found little, lost Edgar just the night before. He looked up with a funny expression on his face and inquired, “Edgar is a stray?” When I nodded, he immediately said, “We need to check for a microchip. A dog like this…” Then he interrupted himself and grabbed a small device off a shelf and kind of waved it around the back of Edgar’s neck. Edgar and I must have both looked puzzled, because he went on to explain many dog owners microchip dogs, especially purebreds. He said a little computer chip is inserted between the dog’s shoulder blades with a needle and a special syringe. I must have looked horrified, because he quickly added that most dogs don’t even feel it being implanted. Once the microchip is inserted the dog is registered and can be traced back to the owner by using radio waves to read the chip.
Huh? All this talk totally confused me and made me hunch my shoulders together in imagined sympathy. I just can’t imagine that a syringe between the shoulder blades would be painless. Shudder. . Eventually, the vet finished waving the small device around and informed me it didn’t look as if Edgar had been microchipped, which seemed odd since Edgar appeared to be show dog caliber.
“Show dog? Purebred? Huh?” I thought.
Sometimes I think I’m just processing things inside my head, but obviously I say them out loud because the vet answered almost immediately, “You know Edgar is a Cairn Terrier, right?”
Edgar? My previously mangy, scroungy, dirty, ugly, smelly little dog a purebred?
We finished up the exam with Edgar disdainfully ignoring the vet as he was poked and prodded in all of his little doggy orifices. I carefully looked away while Edgar endured his humiliation. I disdainfully ignored the vet’s advice about how to search for Edgar’s owner…OKAY. I didn’t show that I was ignoring the advice, and even made copious notes so it would appear I was paying attention, but I figured that anyone who’d just abandoned Edgar like that wasn’t even worth hunting down.
When the exam was done, I was silently shocked by the size of the check I’d to write for the vet’s services. Who knew taking a dog to the vet would be so expensive? Edgar and I graciously accepted our dog food samples and coupons and got back in the car so we could head to the big box pet store the vet’s office had directed us to.
I’ll admit, taking my new companion shopping was a lot of fun. He sat proudly in the shopping cart and we wandered around buying dog food and snacks. With Edgar’s help, I selected a dog collar and leash in jaunty, bright blue. He basked in the praise and compliments heaped on his scruffy looking little head. It appeared that everyone in the world knew that Edgar was a Cairn Terrier but me! And I’m pretty certain that I remember talking to just about everyone in the store. Having Edgar with me took all the focus off me. No one looked at me in curiosity as the complete failure I was. None of them seemed able to tell I’d completely missed the mark when it came to all things related to grief and loss. It almost felt like having a dog along somehow camouflaged me. I liked it.
We hung out at the store for a long time…me, enjoying the feeling of anonymity a small furry companion offered, and him, enjoying the little treats and pats lavished upon him by animal lovers shopping there. We debated for some time over dog bowls and finally settled on a bright red set that looked quite handsome with his creamy gold fur.
The sticker shock I’d felt at the vet’s office wasn’thing compared to the dismay I felt when the smiling girl at the checkout told me the total of my purchases. I couldn’t believe buying things for a dog cost as much as they did for people!
On the drive back home, I talked Edgar’s perky triangle ears off! His bright, chocolate brown eyes stared at me in fascination as I told him how inexpensive things used to be. We wondered together how people even afforded to eat with the cost of things in the world today.
When I admitted to him I was sometimes afraid about surviving in the world without my husband, he laid his head gently onto my leg and sighed. I’m certain he totally understood what I was talking about.
I felt convinced he was probably one of the smartest dogs I’d ever known. Okay,I hadn’treally known many dogs, but he was, without a doubt, one of the best listeners I’d ever met.
By the time we’d arrived back at the house, not only had he eased my loneliness quite a bit, he’d also helped me come up with the idea of making my blog about him. My daughter had made me re-think ‘Mylifeinsideanoyster’ as a blog name when she told me that I, Pearl, was the irritant I’d be writing about. I still didn’t really get what she’d meant by that.
I spent a few minutes washing and drying the dog bowls and then pounding a nail into the wall by the kitchen door to hold Edgar’s leash and the package of adorable dog poo pick-up bags that were decorated in paw prints. I found a shelf to put all the food and treats on, muscled the dog bed (printed ironically with pictures of kittens) into the corner, and Edgar and I were in business.
I made us both a quick lunch and then Edgar retired to his new doggie bed in exhaustion. Oddly enough, I wasn’t the least bit tired.
I fired up the laptop, prepared to work on my blog and found myself right back at my struggle with alliteration, frustrated.
‘Eager Edgar’ sounded a bit like a porn name to me. Not that I knew much about stuff like that. Really. I’m not just saying that. Finally I settled on ‘Everything Edgar’, registered it, and set out to find a new background more appropriate for my little doggie friend.
To be continued, Tuesday, December 7th.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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