JD Allinder


In Posts on August 21, 2009 at 2:25 pm

My Hero

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I didn’t feel grumpy as much as I just felt disconnected. I laid there tangled up in blankets, staring at the ceiling, immobile under a canopy of Is that all there is? Finally I called Jane’s name. (She sleeps in the living room.) After a pause, she appeared – dopey-eyed, tail swinging in a slow, lazy wag, unable to contain her excitement to see me again but expressing it in her characteristic, slow as molasses, hound dog way. That’s all I needed to get out of bed, turn on NPR, grind the coffee beans, brush the teeth…

But I couldn’t shake the feeling. I sat down to work on a report for work and then moved on to a lesson for a student I tutor. A violent storm passed by. The black-eyed Susans took a beating. A bag of lawn clippings I’d left under the chestnut tree was tossed across the lawn, emptying its contents along the way. (Chestnuts don’t grow well in Michigan, by the way. I think it’s too cold for them.) When it was time for our regular lunchtime outing, I kept working. I was busy. I told Jane I’d make it up to her later. I showered and left to meet my student. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, but I was in a fog. I kept the windows rolled up. I didn’t listen to music. There was no traffic on the road. My phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number.

When I got home from tutoring, I was wracked with guilt. Jane didn’t care; she was ready to go. She’d waited patiently all day, so I took her out straightaway. It was a beautiful afternoon. It was warm, but a steady breeze provided relief. The morning storm had chased away the humidity that made the earlier part of the week unbearable. We walked past Barry on his riding lawnmower. He smiled and waved, looking like a set piece from “Blue Velvet.” We walked the “gralley” – a disused alley that’s returned to nature – and down to Highland Cemetery. Jane ran off-leash for thirty minutes or so, never straying too far, always keeping an ear out for me. She wore herself out hunting groundhogs.

Hunting 'hogs

We slipped through a hole in the fence and went to St. John the Baptist Cemetery across the street (Why is there a separate Catholic lot?) where Jane met her guardian angel.

Jand and Her Angel

Jane got pretty hot, so I rinsed her off using one of the garden hoses that are scattered here and there around the cemetery. She hates when I hose her down (even though she loves swimming and walking in the rain), but it never fails to renew the spring in her step. We finally headed back toward town where we saw this really cool bus parked behind the Corner Brewery that appears to be someone’s home.

The Love Bus

I thought for awhile about how great it would be to live on a bus with Jane and spend our time driving around visiting interesting places like South Dakota and Alaska. (Yesterday I daydreamed about living on a houseboat with Jane.)

We continued on to Frog Island where several people were working in the community garden and a group of  guys were playing soccer, yelling at each other in Spanish. Some kids were playing fetch with an off-leash pit bull. I checked to be sure I hadn’t forgotten my pepper spray.

We crossed the tridge to Riverside Park where a few hundred people were setting up for the Heritage Festival. Riverside and Frog Island host festivals almost every weekend in the summer, but Heritage is the granddaddy of them all. Jane jumped off the pier into the river – she’s really proud of being able to do this now without too much hesitation – to the delight of a man and his two children.

We crossed over Michigan Avenue and walked through the southside ghetto. The Vietnamese men were out playing their hackey sack/volleyball/soccer game. We ran into Kokhang walking Pelu, Twinkle, and Berkeley. Kokhang thinks the men might be Cambodian. Jane loves Kokhang. He always has chicken for her and makes her perform tricks for it. He’s taught her to shake and to high-five. She also loves Berkeley – a rescue mutt flirt who delights her by chasing her round and round. I love Pelu, a fat little Buddha of a puggle who’s my second favorite dog in the world. We have a very special friendship. Whenever I see Pelu he runs up to me and lays on his back at my feet like an offering. Of course this makes me gush and shower him with praise and treats (so I’m sure it’s a completely conditioned reaction).

When Jane and I got back home, I realized we’d been out for over three hours. I was parched, and we were both hungry. It was only after I was preparing dinner that I realized that the disconnected emptiness I’d been consumed by earlier in the day had been replaced by endorphin-fueled peace, rest, and contentment. I can always count on Jane to put things into perspective for me, to get me back on track. I guess she’s my guardian angel.

The Best Girl

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