How a Dog Saved My Mental Health
Have you ever had one of those days? Today was mine. It started just 50 feet beyond my driveway, when I pulled out in the dark morning light to merge with traffic. The car behind me flashed its bubble light. I’d torn out in front of a ...police car!
My heart raced as I gathered my license and insurance slip together. I rolled down the window and frigid winter air slapped me in the face. I could hear the snow squeak under the officer’s shoes as he approached.
His stride was long and purposeful as he crunched through the snow. Quickly his large frame loomed over me. My heart was now thundering in my chest.
Out of nowhere I heard my voice frantically rattle off, “It was foolish of me to pull out so quickly when the roads are icy.” Without waiting for a reply, I gushed, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Driver’s license, please,” he said crisply, his voice booming, seemingly in judgment of my motorist misdeed.
I handed him my papers, his huge hand swallowing up the items. Before I could mutter my "sorry, sorry" again, he retreated to his vehicle.
Sitting in the dark, 50 feet from my doorstep where all the neighbors could gawk and watch as the red and blue lights flashed around me, I waited. I could feel the heat go to my cheeks from embarrassment.
Finally he marched back and sternly warned me to always drive safely on snowy roads. My chest heaved with a long sigh of relief.
Lady luck was on my side - at least until I got to work.
Right as I was swept in the door of the galley with a whoosh of frigid air, the phone was ringing. I rushed over and answered with a gasp, trying to catch my breath. It was Allison, our buyer. Her newly, shelter-rescued dog, Taco, had a butt-full of lumps. Hives, the vet said.
In between our conversation, Allison was frantically trying to coax the pup to take medicine. Non-stop barking echoed through the phone. “I’ll be late to work,” she cried.
“All he’s doing is spinning in circles, snapping at his swollen butt.” Again, I felt not-so-lucky. “And once I get him to take the medicine I’ll have to bring Taco to work with me.” The phone went silent except for the rowdy yapping pup. “Unless you don’t want me to come in,” Allison added. Now I really felt not-so-lucky since it was Friday morning and finding a last minute replacement would be impossible.
“Get here as soon as you can,” I said, wondering how our day would go with a lively miniature pincher as a shop dog. This would be a first. Through the years, we’ve had kids coloring in the break room but never a frisky pup bouncing about.
I flicked on the gallery lights, turned on the shop music and unlocked the doors, ready to start the day. Then I saw it. The closing shift left a note that we were out of credit card machine paper - and there was no time left for me to dash to the office-supply store for replacement. Hoping to find a forgotten spool rolling around the back of the supply cupboard, I searched high and low. No such luck.
Well, maybe there wouldn’t be a sale until Allison arrived. That would be unlikely. I stared at the credit card machine as if it could magically make a roll of paper appear. I spotted the store receipt printer next to it. Idea! We could hand-write on the store receipt for customers and re-print copies of the credit card machine once paper arrived. Lady luck was back on my side, or so I thought.
Soon Allison barreled through the door with Taco in tow. I darted to the office-supply store, not waiting to see how the pup would adjust to things. I think my strategy was out-of sight, out-of mind.With haste, I snatched my paper supply and returned to work. Parking in the employee lot behind the shop, my boots squished in the slushy snow. The February day had become mild, snow was melting – that's lucky. Then I slipped on the only patch of ice still left behind. Instantly, I skidded knee-first into a slush puddle – not so lucky! Trying to get up, my heel skated across the slick spot. I crashed again, this time my elbow taking a hard hit. Pain sparked through my arm – very, very not-so-lucky.
I limped into work.
“What happened to you?” Allison asked, taking in my soggy wet pant cuffs and knees.
“Would you believe me if I said I was praying out back?” I stomped my boots to kick off clinging bites of slush. Shrugging out of my jacket, I rolled up my sleeve to peek at the elbow. It was red already, and an egg-shape knob painfully protruded.
“Maybe some ice would help that elbow?” Allison offered.
“Ice is why it’s swelling,” I grumbled, feeling unlucky once again.
“Well, then maybe Taco’s antihistamines would help that swelling,” Allison suggested. “The meds are helping and the hives are fading on Taco’s butt.”
I looked down at Taco. He let out a little yip, licked off a left-over icicle from my fall, crunched it between his teeth and did a little dance.
Hmm … maybe I could use some medicine to make me want to yap and kick up my heels, too. I laughed, instead.Luckily, the rest of the day was uneventful ending with a heart-warming glow: Taco was nestled into one of the shop’s new pet beds. I swear he was smiling as he snuggled his lumpy behind into the cozy little “Cave” bed.