2015 Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer
Just Another Day in West Hollywood, California
The other day Pokey walked me up the street to mail some bills. Well behaved puppy my dog is, I occasionally let him walk off leash, at my side. I brought the envelopes to my lips to bless them, as we approached the mailbox, a practice I have been following for three decades. “I can’t believe I forgot to put stamps on them” I exclaimed.
A young woman approached, from across the street “You might be able to buy stamps over there” she pointed to a business, and reached into her purse for keys.
She is friendly, I thought. I like her sapphire blue suit “Thank you for the pointer, but I have no money on me. No big deal. I only live a block down, and I need the exercise.”
I turned, and the part deer in Pokey jumped to my step.
“Oh my God, your dog is adorable” she bent down to greet him “He’s like a human”. Pokey stood on his hind legs, and if his tongue had been longer, he would have given her a wet kiss. “What is his name?”
“Oh, that’s perfect” she laughed, and took his paw.
She didn’t use the word he hears so often, cute, what was it — adorable? Was I listening? I was amazed at her connection to this dog. Pokey is used to hearing “Oh what a cute puppy. What is his name?” — it’s gotten to his head, but human? I immediately thought of my cashier at Ralph’s grocery store, Dwayne, who said upon passing Pokey’s snack through his register “No wonder your dog won’t eat dry food, if you feed him chicken from the gourmet salad bar”.
It’s only seventy cents, I thought. Pokey is worth it.
My mind went to our nightly push in bed for territory, Pokey’s weekly bathing schedule, the lotion I put on his feet, I did not say paws, am I nuts? The lotion was a gift from my neighbor, Brandon Downy, who had no choice but to toss everything into the trash bin. And now, Pokey has ‘lost’ his second service vest, and that nasty muzzle, just to let me know they are inhumane, and it is humiliating to expect him to wear either for even a minute. But he would not stop growling. Pennies in a jar worked for a while. I am happy to relate in this 2018 edit, the problem was set aside about six months ago.
The dog feeds off of my anxieties.
“Would you wear a mouth guard? Pokey asked me one evening, as we were watching Animal Planet.
“I do, and besides, I don’t bark.” He looked at me with those brown saucer-like eyes. “Okay. I see your point. I do growl. Occasionally.”
“Do you have a dog?” I asked the woman.
“Yes” she looked into my eyes “I’m Julie” she smiled, and extended her hand.
“Julie?” I asked “J-u-l-i-e?” following my habit of repeating and spelling a person’s name upon meeting them. I pulled Pokey’s card out of my pocket, and handed it to her “Check him out. He and his two toilet-trained cats have a U-Tube channel with 250 videos, Meck&Miao and Pokey. Click ‘Like’ and share, please”.
She reached into her purse, and pulled out a case, and handed me her card “It seems we were destined to meet”. I was drawn to the texture of the paper, the coloring, the creative layout. I raised my sunglasses to a headband, and read.
A crusty voice down the block, like a Russian dock worker just sobering up from his nap, yelled, distracting me, annoying me.
“Sir, sir, sir!” he grumbled to the back of my head, as I tried to listen to what Julie was telling me. The man continued grumbling something to my head. I ignored him.
She played with Pokey. “We don’t give animals the credit they deserve.”
“Most people don’t get my dog at all” I said “Your connection to my dog amazes me”. We discussed breeds, careers, I introduced myself, probably spoke more than I needed to. Sometimes it just feels better than to remain verklemmt.
Julie continued speaking, and a second crusty voice demanded my attention “Sir, sir, sir”. I turned briefly. WTF? He had a partner now, and they both needed a shave, a shower as well. It is good they are standing upwind, I thought. One had his cell phone handy in case my docile canine should attack. I held my hand up, to stop their banter. “Talk to the hand” I wanted to say, but the words come to me later, when their only value is in a lesson on the need to sharpen my mind. And the need to think with my heart, not my brain.
The man was relentless “I am a resident in the city of West Hollywood” he yelled.
“Good for you” I turned back to Julie, back to the Holy Instant “What breed did you say your dog is?” Before she could answer, he continued interrupting.
He took a bold step forward in both body and civic duty “City ordinance requires your dog be on a leash” he said.
“Yeah, yeah, poo poo” there is always someone who needs to feel spoken to. Why do they seem to always find me? The man repeated his banter about the West Hollywood City Ordinance.
Chant him away, I took another deep breath.
The man realized I was not going to address him, so he went after Julie’s attention, as if she had something to do with my dog being off his leash, standing, looking at me like WTF? The man caught Julie’s attention, from behind her dark glasses.
I think she wanted to shut him up “He is not a dog” she threw me right back into the Holy Instant “He is human”.
This girl knows something. The man continued his attempt at spreading misery, before he finally shut up. I rather believe we shared some laughter.
Julie and I parted. She got into her car. I addressed the man, as Pokey walked me home home off leash “My dog listens” I said “You don’t”.
Ten minutes later, I returned off my leash, with Pokey at my side, stamped envelopes in hand. We passed the men’s lair undetected. They were huddled over their cell phone. We dropped my bills into the mailbox. I bent down to clip on my leash, and saw two old crones watching, prepared to do their part in civic duty to report a violation of City Ordinance.
“Now Pley bark” I said to Le Mutt, but of course, when I want him to impress, the canine makes me look like a fool.
“Rrrr-uff! Rrrr-uff!” I growled, as the crones disappeared behind the hedge. Thanks to Julie, we left with a smile, ready to spread that love into the next Holy Instant. I will remember her evalutation “Your dog is like a human” and I will see to it Pokey never reads this post.
There is one life.
This life is Dog.
This life smells perfect thought, word, action.
I accept any bone, no matter what the size.
I give thanks I am able to help keep my master centered.
I give thanks for the purrs that calm me, and the growls that are meant to protect me.
I release my thought and smell.
And so it is.