When my son rented a house in Philadelphia with several other students, he found himself the keeper of a mangy 13-year-old dog, Blackthorn.
The problem for Blackthorn was that one of the other students who was renting also had a dog. This dog’s name was Kaya. Kaya was young, energetic and certainly more attractive than Blackthorn. So he got almost all the attention.
To make matters worse for Blackthorn, he had a large patch of hair missing on his back. This, of course, discouraged people from petting him.
Come winter, Kaya and his owner moved out. How fortuitous for Blackthorn. Now he was the only dog in the house.
One day, my son bathed him. Another day, he took him for a walk in the woods. When the students had a barbecue, Blackthorn was invited to play Frisbee.
Suddenly, Blackthorn was receiving a lot of attention. He became more energetic and less docile. He wagged his tail more often. His hair grew back. It was almost as if he had returned to an earlier time in his life.
Once I was sitting in a booth in a restaurant when several men in their 70’s passed by. The one man said to the other, “You know, Sam, I think that woman over there was flirting with you.” Sam half-laughed and said, “You think?” At which point Sam threw back his head, put his chest out, stood a little straighter and quickened his stride across the room.
Which brings me to my mother-in-law. Several years ago I took her to Harry, her eye doctor, for a minor operation. After the surgery Harry asked her if she would like a cup of coffee. Mother, then in her 80’s, said that sounded just wonderful. Harry himself went to get the coffee.
For three days Mother was more perky and more girlish and told everyone about Harry getting her a cup of coffee.
Woman, man or beast – we all need to be recognized.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,” and “Thin Becomes You” Doris’ web page: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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