She looks absolutely pitiful; a shadow of the fluffy pup who only yesterday sprung up to her window seat to watch the cars go by. The vet sent Skylar home today after double knee surgery. A stiff, plastic Edwardian collar keeps her from licking the long, red-stitched wounds open. Her tail no longer arches up with its’ Pomeranian plume but droops like a worn out feather duster. Carefully, as if I am holding a fragile, glass figure, I carry her to the grass to pee. Her hind paws rest in my palm like tiny rabbit’s feet.
The sight of her now would make anyone sad—but for this: She leaves my side, walking on only her two front feet as if she has done this all her life! She pauses, sighs, then wobbles forward another several yards with both her back legs lifted. They seem held aloft by invisible strings! While her gait has a slight back and forth wobble, she moves with a smoothness that amazes me.
I think of the old saying, “When one door closes another one opens.” It occurs to me, though, that the other door being open means absolutely nothing if one does not walk through it. And I think of the many people I know in my life who stand in front of open doors and never even cross the threshold. They just stand there, not lifting a foot, as if paralyzed. Aren’t they curious what might be around the corner?
When I was a teenager and moping around the house, Granny always encouraged me to go do something for others. ‘I bet Mrs. Tway would love it if you’d offer to water her flowers.” Her theory was: If you take a real interest in others, you won’t have time to think about yourself. It always worked.
It even works for dogs. Skylar has spotted a butterfly. She gives chase for only a few feet and collapses in the grass. Her little, collared head turns in the direction of the butterfly until it disappears and then she looks at me. Her eyes are sparkling. I lift her up and hold her close. She looks around sniffing with anticipation of what might be next. And so do I . . .and so should we.
**Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir of the years before and after her grandmother’s descent into Alzheimer’s. http://www.helen-hudson.com