I found Argus' collar this weekend. I was cleaning the plant room and didn't see it right away. I should have because it's red. And yes, it has lots of shiny tags on it. Yes, it jingled when I picked it up. Yes, that sound made me weep.
It seems ridiculous to me that I obviously haven't moved past this. I don't cry about my mother, and haven't since she died. But someone on the outer reaches of our neighborhood has a Great Dane. She was walking him down the street. I was cooking dinner. I heard that bark and my first thought was, "Oh no! I left the dog outside!" In the same moment I realized that it couldn't possibly be Argus, I snapped off the stove, threw down the potholder and dashed out the door.
She must have thought me a little crazy, running barefoot across the street as I did. Trying to hide the tears as I touched my forehead to his; as I dug my hands into his fur--that spot right behind the ear that always worked for Argus, and probably every other dog. She and I talked a bit. The dog was a rescue she'd had for a year. He was taller than Argus and a Blue. Sweet, with the classic Great Dane temperament. His eyes were green, which I wasn't expecting, and from his lines and the way he carried himself, I would guess he was a purebred.
But I found myself, well, finding fault. He wasn't as handsome as Argus. He was too tall. He was too thin. His eyes were too close together.
The truth is, he wasn't Argus.
More than a month passed and there I was. Sitting in a flowered chair surrounded by rescued poinsettias, overgrown aloe, scraggly ivy, the Christmas cactus that always blooms at Easter and Thanksgiving and a few other plants whose names I forget. Staring at the collar in my hand, the doggy smell slightly sour and faded. Turning the tags through my fingers, noticing that we never updated his address from Campbell to Redwood City. Wondering if I’d had his lo-jak deactivated. Wondering why this silly dog can still turn me into a puddle of tears.
We’re going to pick up our new puppy on Saturday, a Golden Doodle. Thomas didn’t think another Great Dane was a good idea since they’re not really what you’d call “portable.” The girls are really excited and have made a Puppy Countdown calendar. Thomas has already re-read all of the puppy books—there’s so much you forget in eight years. Me? I’m still crying over Argus and wondering how in the world I’m ever going to love another dog that much.
I know I will. I’m just not convinced that this is the right time. Which is completely beside the point because 1) I’m outnumbered, and 2) they’re pretty darn cute puppies.