Monday, September 21, 2009

A Bookshop Dog's Journal: Part II

On the last full day of summer, Phoebe and I went to the park three times. Phoebe greeted dog friends and met a puppy new to the neighborhood, watched four squirrels eating a hearty breakfast, and unearthed two tennis balls from the scraggly shrubs surrounding one of Carl Schurz Park's dog runs. I know what time we left for each outing, roughly how much distance we covered and by which routes, and the all-important weather conditions, including the dewpoint to which Phoebe and I are so sensitive. It's all noted in Phoebe's journal, along with the rest of our day.

When we weren't in the park, Phoebe and I were booksellers. I cataloged recent arrivals. I did some packing and bookkeeping. I answered e-mails and that quaint device, the telephone. Phoebe kept me on track. She took a nap that energized both of us. She reminded me when it was time for a break, which always means a cuddle and one of our precious visits with a book.

It's not just memories in the making: Phoebe's journal records more than activities. I note her reactions to new friends (no walk of hers is complete until she meets a person or a dog she hasn't met before) and new experiences (such as her recent first encounter with an earthworm in distress on the sidewalk; her exemplary behavior helped in the worm's rescue).

I note these reactions, of course, from my limited perspective. For all I learn about Phoebe as I chart her days, I am reminded that I'm only human, which fact I resent because I want to know more about the world as dogs understand it. Like all the dogs I've known, Phoebe teaches me something every day.

Phoebe and I celebrated the end of summer with more than bonus park visits. We unpacked her sweaters (she's a wool turtleneck girl) and gave them a good airing on the terrace. We bid a symbolic farewell to that menace, the heat index, and recalled, with reference to an older volume of her journal, some of last winter's stirring windchills.

We have a busy workday tomorrow, so we won't get to the park more than once. But we'll be there, at the crack of dawn on the first day of autumn, for which a page is waiting in Phoebe B. Dackel's journal. We wouldn't miss any of it for all the world; it's a little world all our own.

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