It’s been eighteen years since my
last dog died and I
really had no plans to get another.
Retired, empty-nested, single—
why topple a carefree life?
Then comes March and the
shadow of COVID-19 closes in—
a time when life becomes a surreal
spectacle of masks and social distancing
to slow the spread of a mysterious virus
the world has never seen;
a time when lives are being lost
so quickly that unprecedented steps
are taken to close airports, schools,
restaurants, all businesses that are unnecessary,
(except to those who own them).
When that shadow falls across my couch,
the stark reality of my solo life without
the company of friends and family
comes into sudden sharp focus.
I find myself in search of a dog.
I approach the search with the angst
of an uncertain bride, or a woman
wondering if she’s really ready
to have a child;
but nothing in life is ever totally
right or certain,
so I go to the sites, read the stories,
view the pictures, send in applications—
I am especially drawn to Chevy,
a little gray and white Shih Tzu
abandoned in Denver and found
lying by a small yellow truck in the
front yard of an empty house.
His big brown eyes look at me
from his photo and I am smitten.
I place the application.
I breathe a sigh of ambivalent relief
when I find out the next day that
Chevy has been adopted by his foster family.
I would quit my search and now,
COVID-19 would be my only uncertainty.
A week passes; then a call comes.
Could I adopt Chevy that afternoon?
His adoption has failed and he needs a home.
Sometimes it’s best not to think.
I take a leap and say, Yes!
So we start slowly, Chevy and I.
I give him food.
I give him a bed.
I take him for walks.
I sit on the couch.
Trust replaces fear.
Last night, I woke up
and listened to his breathing, much
like I listened to my babies’ breathing
Yes, this is a new companion,
a new journey. So let’s just take it
day by day,
breath by breath—
kind of like what we’re doing now
in the times we’re living in.
Terry McDanald Zajac is a retired speech/language therapist and reading teacher who lives in Arvada.