It’s been a long time. I’ve wondered why go on with it. I was walking Bear down to the park, off-leash, meandering from tree to bush to ice-cream wrapper in the street like when you arrive at the airport early, you have to get to the gate but plenty of time to get there. It’s a summer afternoon with nothing on the agenda save for making dinner.
Across the street the postman finishes his deliveries. Pulling away from the curb he spies Bear sniffing under a rhododendron bush with a Popsicle stick planted near the base. The postman stops and jumps out of the truck so excited to see Bear.
Pointing at Bear, he says, “Your dog really loves to sleep.” Bear looks up, smiling at the postman, and wags his way over to him for a treat and some pets.
This moment, seven blocks from Bear’s couch, where he normally laid paws up in the air snoring, more than any false positive or missed low-alert, solidified in my mind Bear’s likely life trajectory. At the end of his work day, the postman recognizes Bear, not as the maniacal protective dog barking at him through a closed door, but as the dog that snores away on a couch, nary a movement while the postman clangs around on the front porch. He was probably just excited to see that Bear was in fact a living animal, not a decoy stuffed-animal laying infinitely motionless on the couch.
The postman climbed out of his truck, treat in one hand and other hand extended for Bear to lick, excited to see a living version of Bear. It was as if he’d witnessed a resurrection, once dead on the couch, now trotting around the neighborhood searching for treasure. At this moment it occurred to me Bear was solidly in the “pet” category as a dog living in our home. Up until this moment, I’d held out hope that Bear was not yet completely a pet, that he might veer towards that “service-dog” category. I thought that maybe he’d miraculously begin signaling low blood-sugars for Dec and Maggie.
And it wasn’t a sad moment. Rather, the weight of scent training and checking everyone’s blood-sugar after Bear pawed or let out a high-pitched bark had suddenly been lifted. We could go on our less complicated lives. No more slightly hidden anxieties as the diabetics lolly gagged, pretending to make their way to a kit to check blood-sugar after Bear gave a signal. Suddenly I was happy that Bear was able to walk down the street off-leash, because he is one big dog, and my shoulder gets sore tugging at his 110 pound mass.