Monday, March 3, 2014

True Story...

The barista on the working side of the counter handed me the soy chai latte I had ordered three minutes prior with a smile on her face.  I quietly said, “Thank you.” To which she replied, “Have a nice day!”  She then turned her attention back to making coffee and I turned on my heel to walk through the front door and back out into the cold February air. 

Light showers of rain sprinkled down onto the cement as I took a seat on the covered patio at a wire table.  My leggings were thin so I could feel the chill in the air, but my large winter coat provided enough comfort to keep me from sitting in my car instead.  I set my bag down where I could keep an eye on it and pulled out the novel I was currently engrossed in.  The pages turned quickly, and before I knew it my latte was nearly empty.  To take a breather from the words on the page, I looked up and beyond at the rain.  The smell of the clean, wet air was intoxicating, and I smiled to myself feeling gratitude for the weather. 

Just then a homeless woman approached me with her large dog.  I couldn’t place the breed of the animal, but I immediately put my hand out for him to smell so he would feel comfortable.  “Good afternoon,” the woman said to me, “Do you mind if I tie up my dog here by you so I can go inside and drink a cup of coffee?”

“Of course!” I smiled, “What’s his name?”

“Oh, this is Jake.  He’s a good dog. Thank you!”

I love dogs, all animals actually, so I reached down and began to pet Jake.  Unlike most dogs, who get excited at any touch, and try to jump and give kisses, Jake just laid down next to me and lowered his head.  I pet him behind his ears and the length of his back, but nothing seemed to do much for him.  “Jake?” I whispered, and he lifted his head with much effort to look me in the eyes.  When our eyes met I felt exhausted for him.  He laid his head back down and I just continued to run my hand across his body from ears to tail.  People would walk by and smile at us.  I would smile back, but nothing could stop me from touching Jake.  The urge to comfort him grew exponentially, and soon I was fighting to keep his damp fur from getting too cold, as though my small palm would make a difference. 

I began to wonder if he would have a warm place to sleep that night, or how he became the beloved pet of a homeless woman.  Jake looked well fed, and besides being damp and dirty, I could tell he was taken care of.  Still, the thought of running away with him crossed my mind.  Of course I would never steal someone’s animal, but even if that weren’t the case, I knew taking Jake away from this woman was a bad idea.  The only time Jake roused was when a customer left the cafĂ©, and immediately would look down once he realized it wasn’t his mom. 

My heart swelled and my breath came slowly, within minutes I felt so much love for this dog, and I prayed that he would live a long and happy life.  I lifted my hand and noticed a thick layer of black spread evenly over my skin.  It was time to move on to the next part of my day, so I reached down and gave Jake one more solid scratch behind his ears and said goodbye.  Jake didn’t look up at me, nor did he stir when I stood up.  I gathered my things and went into the bathroom to wash my hands.  It took two handfuls of soap to get the job done. 

On my way to the car I passed Jake one last time, and I waved goodbye, as though he were an old friend.  He turned his eyes toward me, but didn’t move his head.  We locked eyes once more, and he held my gaze.  After a few seconds he broke contact.  I drove away that afternoon with a sense of failure amplified by the raindrops falling on my windshield.  Then I spent the next hour trying to convince myself that Jake would be okay.

1 comment:

  1. What a simple but wonderful post. Thank you for sharing that moment!