Dear Poodle

A view to the right in Mill Creek

Dear Poodle:

You are correct in your assessment of me, I am a dog lover. And apropos to this situation, I not only welcome the opportunity to pet dogs in the river valley, I encourage it. Sometimes I do this with a gesture…an open palm for instance. Other times, I psychically transmit my receptivity to physical contact, which may or may not develop into full-on fondling, if appropriate.

Such was the case today. A beautiful walk in the woods, the sun warm on my back, my thoughts firmly cast in the moment, as opposed to where they usually hang out~in the disappointed past or the fretful future. Carefree in other words, and happy to be outside on such a lovely, late-spring day.

And then you came along.

I’m not a huge fan of poodles, but I have to say, you looked very jolly indeed in your black bouffant wig, sporting an ear to ear grin. When you came bounding over the hill, your master off in the distance, I knew you were coming for me, and so I did what I always do: I held out my hand, palm side down so as to not appear hostile. Milliseconds before my hand made contact with your face, I noticed the white outline of spit foaming around your mouth. But, it was too late to do anything about it, and so I got slimed. Clearly, you had been exerting yourself, because this was not a normal amount of gob bubbling over your shining lips, now slathered up my arm and dripping off my fingers. Images of Old Yeller minutes before young Travis blows his head off comes to mind. Of course, you do not have rabies, it’s just spit. Thick, glutenous strings of dog spit. I have been up to my elbow in a dog’s mouth plenty of times, either shoving medicine in or pulling something out, and getting frenched by the family pet is a weekly occurrence. It’s not that I’m squeamish, it was just the sheer volume of slobber spraying from your mouth. By the time your oblivious owner called you back, after several failed attempts to wipe my hand on your head (disguised as petting, of course), I was drenched. When he waved at me, I waved back, gobs of spit cobwebbing between my fingers. Next time dog, how about a courtesy wipe in the grass, or better yet, on your companion’s body parts?

The man and his perilously friendly poodle were just a few feet from me, so I carried on, as if nothing traumatic had just happened. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but even in my distress, I could not rub my hand on my shorts. It would have seemed…I don’t know, unfriendly, like his dog was diseased. Clearly this dog was far from sick, and was in fact in possession of a pair of superior salivary glands. I picked up my pace, the spit drying to a sheen on my

Running the stairs moments after 'the incident'

arm, gluing all the little hairs in place. Finally, when I could no longer hear the poodle prancing in the bushes behind me, I bent down in the tall grass and wiped my hand, arm, and parts of my thigh on the leaves. And then I rubbed them on my shorts. And then I did it again.

In spite of the ‘poodle incident’, it was a lovely walk through south Mill Creek. After drying myself with grass, I felt energized to the point where I ran the set of stairs near the mill house (with the rooster) a few times. Maybe some of the dog’s exuberance was present in molecular form in the gob, and it transferred into me via every pore in my body from my shoulder to my knee. With that kind of quantity, if not quality, anything is possible.

My walk ended in a trip to the grocery store, and I confess that yes, I did touch fruit with my be-slobbered hand, some of which I purchased. Wash your fruit kids, you never know where my hand has been.

2:45PM/21C

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