Monday, November 30, 2009

A Bookshop Dog's Journal: Part IV

When you're a dog, bookselling isn't always a walk in the park. Unless you're Phoebe B. Dackel this past November.

Phoebe was busier than usual last month, in the office, at home, in the park she loves so much. It's not my imagination or holiday-season-onset fatigue. It's all there in her daily journal.

Each page lists her five walks, with departure times and weather conditions, where we go and how we get there and approximate mileage, what's said of or to Phoebe in the elevator and the lobby and beyond, our encounters with squirrels and other friends, our discoveries of lost balls. There are notes about her meals, her naps, her official staff dog duties, and her romps and games. Recent highlights from her social calendar include a very happy Thanksgiving and a long, lazy afternoon that our beloved Pomeranian friend Lola spent with us.

Inside the front cover of every half-year-long volume of Phoebe's journal are columns that wait for numbers to be added as each month ends: one for total park visits, another for balls found.

That first column for November 2009 shows a number that frankly astounds me, even though I'm always there at the other end of Phoebe's leash. This is the dog who, when she came to me from Dachshund Rescue and the city shelter, was afraid of the outside world, for whom it took, her journal records, almost three months of approaches to the park before Phoebe would venture inside, and when she did it was with the help of another dog who understood and gave Phoebe a nudge to the shoulder that I witnessed and much I had no ability to see, some guidance, some insights, something more helpful than all the reassurances I had been offering (or trying to), some of what only dogs can comprehend and share among themselves: a release from fear for Phoebe, and a reminder to me that dogs need dog life as much as human companionship. That helpful dog, whom we knew only by sight, gave Phoebe a freedom that has taken her not just into the park but far beyond. It was her last fear, vanquished.

During this past November's 30 days, the dog who was afraid of the park has visited it 62 times. A new personal monthly best for The Phoebster!

If the weather cooperates (not that we let it run our lives), we may be looking at a new annual record for park visits. Sounds like an exciting post for New Year's Eve.

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