Right now, a big lump of black fur is busy snoring at my feet. She sounds like a diesel semi-truck warming up on a cold morning.
This dog does almost everything alongside me. She eats what I eat. She goes everywhere I go. Even on long road trips. We’ve been doing this for years now.
In fact, each day around ten o’clock—which is when I run errands—she sits at the front door, whimpering. Every few seconds, she’ll trot up to me. Then to the door. To me. To the door. Me. Door. Me. Door. Back and forth, until she’s a blurry streak of fur and dander.
I won’t lie to you, she’s ruined my vehicle. You’ll find dog saliva on my truck windows, seats, and dashboard. And, there’s enough black hair in there to build a special kind of black-and-tan snowman. But it doesn’t bother me. I carry a lint brush.
The other day, I took Ellie to Geneva, Alabama. I drove backroads. We rode past a scenic, open field just off Highway Two. I pulled over. If you’ve ever wondered where Heaven is, it’s on the way to Geneva.
I kicked the door open and tossed Ellie’s toy duck so hard I nearly dislocated my cotton-picking shoulder. She tore after it, flying across twenty acres of shallow hills. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an animal quite that happy. We did this for an hour, until she wore slap out. Then we ate cold pork on my tailgate.
She slept the rest of the trip.
I don’t know why God didn’t see fit to let me have children. There’s a piece of me that wishes he’d change his mind. Sometimes, I wonder whether he thought I had the smarts to help a child through this world without harming their future. Maybe he didn’t.
This might be why I like dogs more than my friends with children do. I suppose the daddy in me has to show up somewhere. Or, maybe I just want what everyone wants—to feel valuable to someone smaller than me.
Anyway, a lot of folks might think dogs are bothersome creatures that drool, snore, shed, eat, bark, drink from the toilet, and smell like elephants. And these folks would be right.
Ellie Mae has ruined my backyard, my sofa, my carpet, two cellphones, one coffee table, and a fifty-dollar pair of boots. But if the truth be told, I don’t care if every blessed thing I have goes to the dogs.
It sure beats riding in the truck by myself.
You ought to hear this dog snore.