Traveling reminds me of how much my dogs anchor me to the real world. While I was visiting my cat-loving mother in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where it rained for seven days straight (and continues to rain), I lost all my routines and even bits of my identity. We couldn't go walking because of the weather and the flooded trails in the nearby park. We didn't have a reason to walk—though Mum's obese kitties could use the exercise. We drove to the grocery store and to the library. We wore sweatshirts with animals on them. By 5:30 in the evening, we both donned blue, fuzzy bathrobes, and, gin-and-tonics in hand, settled in to watch the news and quiz shows—undisturbed because my mother turns off her computer, sets the burglar alarm, and refuses to answer the phone after dusk. It was, my friends, life in the slow lane. And while it was incredibly relaxing, I realized how much I depend on the dogs to get me out in the world in a meaningful way.
I returned home too late to pick up the girls from the kennel. I tossed and turned all night. I woke at every sound and look around, mistaking the still-packed suitcase on the floor for one of the dogs. I missed the familiar sounds of Roma's tags jingling and Muzzy's snore-sighs. Within minutes, though, of collecting my dogs, I felt as if I'd had two cups of coffee. Suddenly, I was hungry and alert and had so much to do and say. I began planning our walking schedule. Life assumed its old shape and patterns. So tonight, we'll be at Dog Park chasing tennis balls and poking at wildflowers in the muggy heat instead of sipping gin and reading murder mysteries on a rain-soaked evening. I'll look for you there.