Last night my dog Pearl and I stepped out our downtown apartment door for an evening stroll. As we walked past the corner ale house one of the imbibers gestured to Pearl and smiled. "Hey you--how are you doing?" he asked her. His smile was engaging and contagious; both Pearl and I were immediately pulled in to its radiance. We came closer to say hello as the man knelt on the ground to see Pearl at street level. She gave him a high five and was simply happy to be in his presence. As we walked away I felt the smile slowly move from my heart to my face. "I just witnessed Pearl making a human friend," I thought to myself.
If you don't know Pearl (or me), this may not sound profound, or even blog-worthy. Trust me. . . it is. At the close of a 25 year relationship with my husband, I was rudderless and deeply depressed. Not to mention fearful and suddenly dog-less. That was (sometimes still is) a lonely and dark time for me. In 2015 I adopted Pearl, a super terrier. We share so many traits it's unnerving. For the first 5 years I navigated living downtown with this fearful, vocal, sensitive, determined and hilarious being. Not everyone could see the whole Pearl; the Pearl I knew existed underneath all her fears.
During those years, when we stepped outside our apartment door it was with fear and anxiety. We never knew what we were going to find out there. Often it was someone yelling, "Control your fucking dog," when Pearl barked at the skateboard rambling down the sidewalk, or someone telling me to socialize my dog. Another person (a 'friend') grabbed Pearl by the collar and shoved her head to the ground to stop her from barking. The anxiety flowing between Pearl and I was palpable. Looking back, I know I expected to find the opposite of friends every time we stepped out the door. Threats were all around, it seemed.
So to say that I'm pleased by this friendly interaction between a fellow human and Pearl is an understatement. It is turning a big corner for both of us.
Our evening strolls often take us to the local record shop where she knows she will be given a treat. Or a jewelry store where she knows she will see a handful of people who treat her with massages and treats. On Fridays, Pearl knows
Robert will be there in his big truck and a bacon treat for her. Our neighbor Catherine is always ready to give Pearl special treats too. With the help of many people and experiences along the way, Pearl and I can step out our door confidently; we both expect to find friends out there.