Eighteen months later, I should have listened to her.
On Saturday, I drove fifty miles into the high desert to meet Strider, a five-year old black lab whose website description sounded promising. We hit it off immediately; our mutual neediness meshed. He jumped into the back of the Explorer, and we headed to our new home, almost as new for me as it would be for him.
He’s a good boy, no doubt about that, and tries so hard to please that it’s almost heartbreaking, or warming. I’m not sure. He’s had no accidents, and with the exception of making a desperate dash into traffic that sent me flailing down the street in flip-flops screaming his name, he listens and he’s calmed down into a routine, of sorts.
He’s smaller than Bob, not as tall and stately, and he’s thinner. His head is far pointier, and his snout shy of Bob’s strong profile. The divot in his nose has no possibility of being useful in the kitchen. His eyes don’t connect in the same way as Bob’s, and he doesn’t have Bob’s sage soul, yet.
Those differences aside, it hasn’t stopped me from calling him “Bob” on more than one occasion. I give myself an internal kick, but there it is. Embarrassed, I quickly correct myself, but I know it’s too late. I can lie on the couch with Strider balled up in the crook of my knee, and if I don’t touch his pronounced pointy-head, I can pet him while watching television, and it’s all so familiar. And good.
Strider just needs to emerge--––his peculiarities, his rhythm, his responses to me will slowly come into their own, so that nasty slip of the tongue will fade away, and I’ll no longer call him “Bob.”
In fact, just to make sure, I’m going to rename him Steve.