The Canada geese glide down and ski to a stop on the brown water below us as we walk over the wooden bridge towards the dog park. It is a misty grey morning and it has been raining, so the bridge is slick. The geese have joined ducks and the invitation propels the puppy to the side, pushing her black snout through the slats, all her birding instincts commanding her to crouch, bark and attempt to simultaneously remove my arm at the shoulder and knock me off my feet by yanking forward on the leash.
I am pulled along, the puppy zigzagging from one side of the path to the other, sniffing grass, peeing on a fence, greeting another dog until I can unhook her and toss the kong. This early the dog park is nearly deserted and the rain has left small lakes clustered all through the throwing area. I am not a dog park person, as our old Aussie mix preferred sitting on the bench with the people and we can do that at home. After a few tosses, I give the kong a throw with a bit more muscle and the puppy plows through a puddle sending up a huge spray. This puppy is drawn to the water like a toddler and this could go on for hours I soon realize. The game winds down when the puppy starts to drop the kong further and further from me so I clip on her leash and am dragged back over the bridge to the parking lot.
On cue the puppy sails up into the back of the Jeep, sleek and black as a seal pup, her tail threatening to pull her spine out of alignment she wags so furiously. I remind her, again, to sit and push her back, distracting her by tossing the slimy pink kong in the corner as I close the tailgate. By the time I open the driver’s door she’s in the passenger seat, beyond excited to see me again. I get out and put her in the back, this time looping her leash over the roll bar. This is my son’s puppy, in essence my beta grandchild, so it’s the best kind of puppy.
I had lined the back of the Jeep with junky blue towels – the dog towels - and used an extra one to rub her muddy haunches as she wiggled all over me. This towel wrestle is a familiar one. Her muscular enthusiasm echoes that of her owner’s when I used the same towels to dry his 30-pound puppy body.
These faded cobalt blue towels were once the perfect match for the blue tile that lined the shower and bathtub in my kids bathroom, though they were rarely displayed on the towel rack. They have toweled off three slippery baby bodies. Pulled hot from the dryer they have burritoed toddlers who did not want to get out of the bath that they did not want to take 20 minutes earlier. I’ve used them to cover a pee soaked bed I was too exhausted to change at three in the morning. They have dried dripping curls of many lengths, and been left where they drop, on the floor of the teen post apocalyptic bedroom, after lacrosse practice showers.
There was the time, not too long ago, I found a blue towel staple gunned to the polished blonde maple dining table leaf, because my eldest said he was ‘making something’. One was discovered in my middle son’s bass drum along with some couch pillows when the drum kit was being unloaded from my car after a gig.
I washed, dried and folded the vibrant cobalt hue and fluffy texture right out of these towels. After twenty years of service, they are no longer presentable, now frayed, with holes and inexplicable stains, they reside folded in the laundry room pantry next to the leash, dog and cat food and box of poop bags.
Once we are back home I let the puppy out of the back as she was eager to get reacquainted with our cats and I gather all the wet muddy towels out of the Jeep and bring them in the laundry room.
The puppy flops down at my feet while I start the towel load, and gnaws her kong with a squeaking of puppy teeth on wet rubber. The emergency towels, the junker towels, the dog towels. They are faithful and ever ready.
I don’t know who’s more exhausted.