At our former home in the country, grass refused to grow in a large shady patch in the back yard. Seeing that we could not win the battle to grow a green lawn there, my husband Bill and I decided to cover the area with mulch, plant a few flowers, and declare victory. A landscaper built an enclosure around the shady section and dumped a mountain of mulch in it. Bill conveniently (for him, not me) managed to be unavailable, so I recruited our pugs Harley and Sarah to help spread the mulch in the boxed-in area.
The pug landscapers dug in energetically and gleefully. They were, perhaps, more industrious than accurate in their shoveling, but they did work at it – and with their bare feet, no less. In fact, they made more progress than I did; it was clear that I’d need to hire a human landscaper to finish the job. But the pugs didn’t know that, and they toiled away enthusiastically all morning.
After all that exertion, my pugs joined me for a nap.
I fell asleep without washing up, so when I awoke, I was ready for a bath. As I arose, Sarah briefly opened her eyes; seeing that I wasn’t going anywhere of interest to her (that is, to the kitchen), she went back to sleep. Harley, who was losing his hearing and, therefore, sleeping through most normal sounds, didn’t wake at all.
I was reluctant to leave Harley on the bed because he got anxious whenever he woke up and didn’t see me. But, looking forward to taking a bath unaccompanied by canine critters, I convinced myself that he’d be fine. The bathtub was less than six feet from the bed, and I always leave the bathroom door open; so if Harley woke up while I was still in the tub, he should be able to find me easily, right? With our doggy “handicap ramp” alongside our bed, he could get on and off without injuring his arthritic back and legs. So I got up to take a bath.
However, a minute or so after I lowered myself into the luxury of a hot tub, I saw Harley scrambling down the doggy ramp. But instead of checking for me in the bathroom, he raced out the bedroom door. I could hear the familiar clack-clack, clack-clack of his footsteps as he frantically ran through the house, searching for me. With his increasing deafness, he couldn’t hear my efforts to call him. His vision was poor, too: He knew his way around the house, but his eye for detail, well, wasn’t.
As I started to get out of the tub to go find him, Harley charged into the bathroom. I expected him to greet me joyously. Instead, without a glance in my direction, he flew past me and the bathtub, straight toward the toilet. Evidently he’d caught sight (or scent) of my jeans, which were hanging off the toilet seat where I’d tossed them.
Harley began prancing excitedly around the dangling legs of those jeans, sensuously rubbing his body against them while he happily wagged his coiled-up tail and wiggled his whole body in absolute ecstasy. It took me a moment to comprehend that he was doing this in the mistaken but definite belief that the empty legs of my jeans contained the actual legs of my body.
There I was, less than three feet away from him, but unseen and unheard by my beloved Harley. Smiling, with tears in my eyes, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, to be honored or insulted, as I saw the love and joy radiating from the clouded eyes of this dear, sweet old dog, my Velcro pug, as he looked up adoringly at what he was certain was his recently re-found mommy’s face: the bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on top of the tank….