a couple of weeks ago, i was reading ian mcewan's new book, "on chesil beach." it's an almost perfect book, beautiful and melencholy and inevitable, and when i got to the end i burst into tears. i knew the ending was coming--it was the only right ending there could be--but it made me cry anyway.
and riley had the most remarkable reaction. the dog who hates noise, strife, squeals, shrieks or any interruption to his routine, came right up and nuzzled me with his soft little muzzle. i had to smile through my tears.
it is interesting to me that of all my dogs, riley is the only one who responds to my tears. i hardly ever cry, so it's hard to conduct a controlled experiment here, but i clearly remember two other instances, both involving my sister kristin:
1) when i opened up the email from her that february morning in 1997 and read that she had cancer, i burst into tears. doug was in the bathroom, taking a shower; the sound of the water drowned out my sobs. toby, my simpatico dog, ran out of the room and crawled under the bed. boscoe, my intelligent dog, ran to the bathroom and began clawing at the door. even in my grief and worry, through my tears, i thought, aren't they supposed to be comforting me? but they wanted nothing to do with me. you could practically hear boscoe urging doug through the door, get out here and do something, for god's sake! she's crying!
2) before driving to duluth for kristin's funeral--this was in september 2002--i took riley and boscoe to the dog park. i felt better, watching them run and play and sniff and splash through the cattails. but after we got home i sat on the back stoop and thought about all kristin had been through, and all that was ahead of us over the next few days. riley was at the far end of the yard, sniffing around my hostas over by the alley. i started to cry, very quietly, and he was at my side in an instant. i watched him through my tears as he wheeled around at my first sob, stared at me a moment, and then lit out across the yard for my side. he put his front two paws on my lap and sniffed my face. i had to smile.
he's a terribly sensitive dog, but he's never been one to be exactly in tune with either of us. standoffish, as i've mentioned before. goes his own way. but there is something in his make up that causes him to respond to my distress--more than my other, more overtly loving dogs. it's just one more mystery of the strange and inexplicable dog that is riley, and that i love.
ABC WEDNESDAY "S" Stony Sculpture
1 hour ago