Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There's Comfort in Familiar

We're stranded for the day in chilly, drizzly Portland, OR, while our
motor home gets buff at the spa (transmission work, new brakes, etc.)

And instead of treating ourselves to an excellent museum, a movie or
even a day at our own spa, we go to the dog park.

We have awfully lucky dogs.

Or perhaps we're just tired after 11 days on the road and can't think
much past what's familiar. And dog parks are familiar. We can breathe
at dog parks.

This one, Hazledale, is in a suburb of Portland called Beaverton,
where all the neighboring residents kick in a dollar or two or 10 a
year to maintain the park. And, thank you, they let us play for free.
So nice, because we need to play, where it's familiar.

But play really doesn't happen. The only other dog at the park today
is Bella, an 8-month-old chocolate lab whom Jacob (my Standard
Poodle) devils and bullies. When she sees him coming, Bella's not sure
what to do, so she crunches to a crawl position, then rolls over.
Jacob gleefully thrusts his nose into her belly and barks. Hops up and
down and barks. Bella rolls back over slowly and, with her ears
flattened against her head, slinks away.

Why do you do that, Jacob!

I call him to quit and apologize to Esther, Bella's owner.

She shrugs. Bella's young, she says. All this is new to her.

While Bella slinks and crawls, Esther tells me about her own life,

About how she's moving to Atlanta, GA, soon from Portland, the land of
her birth, her schooling, her boyfriend. She's leaving behind
everything familiar.

Esther is 20-something and about to plop herself down in a brave new
world. I'll bet on many occasions she crunches to a crawl and flattens
her own ears and slinks away.

Sally forth, I tell her. And, at first, just look for what's
familiar. Take Bella to a dog park.

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