Although she spends a large portion of her day traveling back and forth between a couch and a comfy chair, my retriever Gracie is by no means your garden variety potato. The jingle of a leash brings this sassy senior to her feet in seconds; the human equivalent of 61, the golden girl is in standby party mode and ready to rock at a moment's notice.
Mounds of snow, bitter temperatures and sloppy, salty roads have kept the diva indoors and put a serious dent in her social life. You would have thought she had made the call when the cable guy arrived to check our service.
"Hello- I'm experiencing an interruption in the transmission of butt rubs and head pats. May I please schedule an appointment? Between 8 and 11? Yes, someone over the age of 18 will be here."
Understanding that no one thinks your dog is as incredibly cute as you do, I did my best to keep the socialite at bay so the technician could do his work. Although he didn't seem to mind when she opportunistically nosed her way underneath a free hand, I lured her away with a bag of pita chips and hummus. When our issue was resolved, Gracie followed her new best friend to the door, made him promise that he would call and bid a wagging farewell. I looked into her limpid pools and said, "You need to get out more, girlfriend." She agreed.
The list of places to take a dog on a chilly weekend night in January pretty much begins and ends with Petco. So off we went to the pet-friendly superstore so the queen could hold court with her subjects.
Her anticipatory whines rose to a fever pitch as we pulled into the parking lot and she couldn't get through the store's automatic door fast enough. She did a quick survey of her kingdom, planted her lanky front legs and went into a full body shimmy, smiling at the highest setting. "Well, well... Hello Dolly, well, Hello Dolly,it's so nice to have you back where you belong..." Stock boys danced through the aisles, accompanied by cashiers on their registers, while the manager served up a glittering silver platter of the finest canine haute cuisine. "Bridge that gap, fellas. Find me an empty lap, fellas. Dolly will never go away, Dolly will never go away, Dolly will never go away again!"
The music faded into the background and the spotlight shifted from our heroine to the Petco piece de resistance- the Treat Bar. "We feel the room swayin', for the band's playin', one of your old favorite songs from way back when..." Brightly colored plastic scoops rest atop mounds of biscuits and cookies spilling forth from their bins. I decide that it is a contemporary still life worthy of the old Dutch masters; Gracie decides that it is an open invitation to petty thievery.
Subtlety is not one of our girl's strengths; she shoots toward the bar like a heat-seeking missile and scores a mouthful while a nearby group of boys can hardly contain their laughter. I assure them that there is no charge for the entertainment and I attempt to redeem my dog-training credentials by demonstrating one of Gracie's brilliant tricks. A small crowd gathers, and in no time at all, the bandit is the belle of the ball. Perfect-yet another felon catapulted to celebrity status. Pretty soon she'll be
headed to rehab.
Mistaking Grace's audience for a potential onslaught upon her register, the lone cashier called for reinforcements. Basking in the oohs and ahhs of a
few teen aged girls, Gracie snapped out of her trance long enough to see a familiar figure scurrying towards the front of the store. Darlene, our favorite Petco employee hurried to the aid of her coworker, stopping when she recognized the center of attention. "It's Graaacie!" She stooped down to greet her highness, who immediately demanded a massage. Darlene happily conceded, golden curls running through her fingers as she kneaded Gracie's shoulders. "I love this dog-she's my favorite." Like a sidelined stage mother, I smiled in agreement.
Darlene returned to her duties and we finished our shopping. Our social mission accomplished, we made our way to the checkout, where Gracie racked up a few more head rubs and earned a couple of treats. The lights dimmed, and we exited stage left. "Wow, wow,wow, fellas, look at the old girl now, fellas... Dolly will never go away, Dolly will never go away, Dolly will never go away again."
"Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless its spread around, encouraging young things to grow." ~ Dolly Levi
Top photo- Gracie with Petco employee extraordinaire, Darlene. She is warm, professional, and a huge fan of Ms. G. Bottom photos- No explanation necessary.
Originally from Pennsylvania, I graduated from Penn State University with a degree in printmaking. And so I waitressed-first in my hometown and then at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. I now live in upstate New York with my husband and dog, play bluegrass music and work on my photography skills. I also spend inordinate amounts of time in the gym to ward off middle age as it nips me in the behind.