The supermarket cereal aisle. I love this aisle. There are hundreds of boxes of cereal lining the shelves. Sugary confections that will rot your teeth, pump you full of vitamins, or liquify your colon.
But when I am in the cereal aisle, I don’t think about roughage. I think of somebody I once knew.
Her name was Ellie Mae. She was a black-and-tan bloodhound. Lanky. Long-eared. Her face had a perpetually ancient look. It was as though she’d been alive long before the invention of the chew toy.
She ate meals with me, showered with me, watched professional sports alongside me. She slept in my bed, head resting upon my chest until my arm went numb. We were fishing buddies.
Whenever I went into town, she rode shotgun. And in the supermarket parking lot, I would leave her in the parked car, windows rolled down, so she could sniff the breeze and greet anyone fortunate enough to fall into her houndish gaze.
One day—I will never forget it—I was browsing in the grocery
cereal aisle, and I saw something traipse past me. Something furry and familiar. I turned to see a 90-pound black hound prancing through the sterile white linoleum supermarket aisles.
The dog was wholly oblivious to the cashiers, the bag boys, and the manager who chased her.
Then I realized that this was my dog. She had leapt from my truck’s open windows and come into the store after me. I felt like an irresponsible pet owner and a horrible person. Ellie Mae could have been hit in the parking lot, or wandered off. What a young fool I was.
But I was overtaken by the beauty of the scene. It was almost an ethereal experience, watching Ellie in that store. She was looking for me. And I can’t explain why, but I’ve never felt more loved by a dog than I did in that cereal aisle.