From "Roxie", by Robert Reed
She has become an absolutely wonderful dog. Her mind remains sharp and clear. One morning, she acts a little confused about where we are going, but that's the lone exception to an exceptionally lucid life. When I give commands, she obeys. But there is very little need to tell her what to do. Every walk has something worth smelling. The weather has been perfect, and neither of us is in a hurry anymore. Halfway to the park, we come upon an elderly couple climbing out of an enormous sedan. They're in their eighties, maybe nineties, and the frail little woman says to my dog, "You are so beautiful, honey."
I thank her for both of us and go on.
The park lies to our right, beginning with a triangle on public ground where people bring their dogs trhoughout the day. Roxie does her business in one of the traditional places. I congratulate her on a fine-looking poop. Then we continue walking, heading due north, and at some point it occurs to me that it would be fun to change things up. We could walk down into the pine trees standing beside the golf course. But since I'm not sure that she's strong enough, I say nothing. Not a hint about what I want to do. Yet when we reach our usual turning point, Roxie keeps on walking, not looking back at me as we pass the old maintenance building and start down a brief steep slope.
Coincidence, or did she read my mind?
Whatever the reason, we move slowly into the pines, down where the long shadows make the grass cool and inviting, am I am crying again, thinking what a blessing this is, being conjured out of nothingness, and even when that nothingness reclaims us, there remains that unvaquished honor or having once, in some great way or another, having been alive...
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