A Walk in the Cemetery
Taken from my writing journal for my Introductory Composition class:
October 17, 2011
A Walk in the Cemetery
This evening I returned home from work and begrudgingly engaged in a well-worn routine: walking our dog, Penny. A queen among dogs (and she know it), Penny’s only shortcoming is her inability to understand that human beings aren’t disposed to constantly petting, scratching, or otherwise obsessing over our canine companions–that, and howl volume control. Opening the door after a long day at work, one is met by a gale-force, high-pitched howling wall of sound. Penny means well and is truly a wonderful companion, but she can be insistently demanding of human attention. Failing to organically gain this attention, she will remind you of your place by flopping a paw on your forearm or knee, as if to say, “You and I both know what has to happen, so let’s not beat around the bush.”
As is her natural tendency, Penny was overjoyed to be out of the house and trotting along beside me yesterday. With her nose angled toward the sky and a moderate breeze, her face was awash with a wealth of urinary perfumeries. The two of us made our way to one of our usual haunts – the local cemetery. We entered through the main gates and I removed her leash to let her work off some excess energy. Penny attempted to keep up only to be distracted by the many pockets of nasal treasures littering the pathway. I pulled out her whistling ball–it whistles as it hurtles through the air–and showed it to her. Her focus on me was unflinching; I had come prepared. Mouth open, tongue dangling and tail wagging, Penny bowed down on to her front legs, indicating that she wanted me to throw the ball. I can only assume this gesture didn’t illicit a quick enough response since Penny began immediately howling more and more stridently until I finally whipped the ball down the path ahead of us. She darted off at breakneck speed, belying her normally lethargic personality. Penny caught the ball, tossed it up into the air and caught it again. Slowly she began her reluctant walk back to me with the ball in her mouth. Midway through her journey however, Penny appeared to forget about the ball: unceremoniously dropping it in favour of burying her nose in the grass. I picked up the abandoned ball and again showed it to her with feigned gusto. Her attention was again mine, although less enthusiastic this time. I threw the ball again and she was off.
We continued in this way for ten or fifteen minutes. I would toss the ball and Penny would nab it, only then electing whether to return it to me or speed off after an unsuspecting squirrel. Ball in mouth, she seemed to weigh which option was in her best interest–she would almost unanimously choose the latter. Although excited at the prospect of chasing whistling balls, Penny is at her heart a lackadaisical girl. The last section of our walk was punctuated by my continual attempts to motivate her to move a bit quicker. Slowing to nearly a crawl, the two of us finally emerged from the cemetery and made our way home.
After a mournful look out towards the sidewalk, Penny seemed to say goodbye to the scents of the outside world and entered our foyer under silent protest. I removed the leash and she made her way up to the landing–her usual waiting spot. Looking over as I took my coat off, I noticed that she was licking her front right paw. I took a closer look attempting to hold the paw gently in case she was cut. Penny yelped in pain. Only then did I notice that her dew claw (the claw that dogs have higher up on their forelegs) was broken in half and bleeding. I have often read about the need to be extremely careful when trimming a dog’s claws because of the risk of pain and infection to the animal. Penny’s dew claw was snapped well below the quick so I was immediately concerned. I put my coat back on, reattached her leash and the two of us headed toward the veterinarian.
I think I was more worried than Penny was–her biggest concern seemed to be that she couldn’t lie down comfortably because of her inclination to lay with her front legs under her chest. The two veterinary assistants manning the front desk were very friendly–they’re big fans of Penny’s–and one of them even recounted a recent dew claw incident with her own dog. She said that it was a good idea to bring Penny in just to be sure. After a short wait, the vet examined her and explained to me the particulars of what he needed to do. He took an increasingly nervous Penny into the back and I grabbed a chair in the waiting room and well, waited. About ten minutes later, one of the vet assistants brought Penny out, her leg freshly bandaged in a blazingly hot pink gauze, a purple heart sticker placed right in the middle. A nearby woman– who was waiting to have her uncooperative cat’s claws clipped–audibly gasped in delight. The vet assistant praised Penny on her excellent behaviour; her counterpart behind the front desk remarked at how pretty the bandage looked. A relatively small fee later, the two of us made our way back home.
Arriving at the front door, Penny was much more excited about getting inside this second time–we had been out of the house for nearly two hours. The second her leash was detached, she bolted upstairs and headed straight for her water bowl. I watched her like a hawk to make sure she didn’t chew at the bandage. A couple of scoldings later, she seemed quite amenable to the prospect of wearing the stylish hot pink wrist band with a purple heart on it. The longer I sat with her, the more I imbued her with emotions she likely didn’t have; combining her exhaustion and minor discomfort into an imagined, all-encompassing and general malaise. Heartbroken, I bent the cardinal rule of the house–that no four-legged creature shall get up onto the human furniture–and allowed the poor girl one night’s indulgence: laying in the lap of luxury in the biggest armchair in the room.