I’m at the checkout in the dog food store. They sell lots of other things—cat food, bird food, lawn furniture—but I call this place the dog food store because that’s the only thing I ever buy here. I don’t have a cat and the birds around our place can fend for themselves. And if I feel like lounging around outside, I’ll sit on a rock.
The clerk at the checkout looks at the cans I’ve placed on the counter. She says: “My dogs love this brand!” She’s giving me that look that says: “Go ahead, ask me about my dogs.” So I do, and learn all about her pair of German Shorthaired Pointers, one of whom is currently away on the “show circuit” and the other at home because “She is my emotional comfort, you know what I mean?” I say I do. She continues: “I can’t bring her here to work.” She directs my attention to the floor behind the counter. It looks a bit cramped. “But I can bring her to my other job.” She points off vaguely toward the south, which may or may not be the direction where her other job is, but I get what she means.
Now she’s giving me that look again. My turn. Okay. I ask her what her other job is. This is what she really wants to talk about. I hear all about the night shift at the equestrian center, how she’s usually all alone there and the place is big and scary sometimes, especially when she hears mysterious noises coming from “upstairs”. That’s when she’s really glad she has her dog with her. “You know, for emotional comfort.” I nod in agreement.
At last our transaction appears complete. I say thank you and exit the dog food store with my purchases. On the drive home I listen to the news. It doesn’t take much of that to make me feel like I’m the one working the night shift all alone in a darkened equestrian center out there who knows where with all kinds of mysterious noises coming from “upstairs.” A long road lies ahead. If I make it home, a couple of collies will be waiting for me, watching from the living room window.