This morning, Dexter left me. We had argued the night before. We had come back from a walk and an hour later, he was begging me to go out again. I was watching the news and got impatient at his begging. I snapped at him, “No, stay.” He left a puddle in the hall and went for his bed, dejected. Of course, I walked into it, got mad, called him names I now regret. We didn’t make up and slept uneasily. I imagine he must have spent the night stewing, reliving the hurts and frustrations of our relationship because when I let him out this morning, he had a faraway air. He took his favourite toy and blankie and headed out.
I watched him tenderly from the back-door steps, remembering his puppy days, not wanting to acknowledge last night’s harsh words. I did not apologize. It never occurred to me how deeply I had hurt his feelings. He walked away purposely, without looking back, with bravado in his step. I saw him disappear in a hole in the hedge – I had not repaired it, as I had said I would. He wiggled in, his blanket staying behind lying on the ground. I called out, then “Hey, Dexter, what you doing, boy?” then saw the blanket slowly disappear between the bushes, dragged by an unseen force. I felt then that he was waving a hankie goodbye. It melted my heart and I started worrying.
I went back in for my cup of coffee, still believing he would return for his morning meal and nothing more would be said about it. It was Saturday, traffic was light. He would be back. I did not want to make the first steps. For chrissakes, he was a dog, I was the superior being! Nevertheless, I decided to bake his favourite cookies, as a peace offering. When I had run away as a kid, my little suitcase full of books and apples, my mother had let me know she was about to bake my favourite cookies. It nagged at me and eroded my resolve. I had turned back at the end of the street. I had made my point known and stood my ground.
I was hoping Dexter would feel the same way and decide to forgive me. I hadn’t been a great master, preoccupied and distant. I didn’t play nearly enough, was often frustrated with him. I put the cookies in the oven, and set the fire to low. I would have to wait 45 minutes for them to bake. The coffee was bitter. I threw it out. I had to fetch my own paper. I poured myself an orange juice and took my vitamins. It tasted vile after the coffee.
I settled at the table with the paper to wait for his return. The phone rang. Irrationally, I thought it was him. It was nosy Sue, from three doors down, who said she had seen Dexter go by with a determined look on his face. He had ignored her calls and she wanted to know if I knew he was on the run. I thanked her and hung up. He was headed towards the park. I grabbed my coat and turned the oven off, turned the lights off. I curled his leash in my pocket with the poo bags and headed off. I hoped he would welcome my sorry self and find it in his heart to pardon me. I sure couldn’t find enough love in my own to excuse my behaviour.
I walked heavily to the park. I saw him lying on the ground near a toddler. My heart skipped a beat. The toddler had been crying, and he was licking him tenderly. He had pushed his favourite toy at the baby’s feet and covered him with his blankie. What a handsome dog! So caring! The mother came close and surveyed the scene. She patted him and cooed. She picked up the baby, the blankie and the rubber bone. Dexter followed them as they headed out. The divorce was final.
I went home and threw out the cookies.