I left the dog at City Pets yesterday for a hair trim.
‘Can you clip his nails, too, please,’ I asked the man.
‘Sure,’ he said. ‘It’s all part of the deal.’
The house without the dog was peaceful, no more yaps and whines. It gave me space to wash the fleas from the blankets, the fleas I could not see but only imagine, and to sweep out autumn leaves.
But I felt heavy in my heart. Heavy for my hatred of this dog.
No, not hatred. Hatred is too strong a word.
I shall offer instead a safe word: ambivalent.
I am ambivalent about the dog.
He is like an unplanned child, one I never wanted, and like any unplanned child, I must take care of him, but it goes against the grain and any care I offer him I give without love or affection.
Why is this so? you might ask.
What is wrong with you that you are unable to love and show affection to a dumb beast, an innocent beast such as this thin, brown eyed dog who looks upon you each morning with the hope that today you will be kind to him and show some interest.
I service the dog. I do not take an interest, I say, because I do not have the space, but perhaps it is more than that.
This dog – unplanned, unwanted child – burdens me with the unspeakable agony of my own vulnerability.
He is too unguarded by half. He is too innocent by half. Too much like an open wound.
He waits for attention and I cannot offer any without having to feel my own wounds and my own are now wide open, so I cover them with a thick bandage of intellect and reason and I leave them alone under layers of cynicism, dark, deep and filled with despair.
They fester there.
The dog can carry my pain for me.