Last night at the Wal-Mart Pharmacy, the lady in line behind me had the cutest Cairn Terrier EVER in her cart. The dog was very patiently standing in the belly of the cart wearing a stylish multi-colored sweater and a matching pink rhinestone collar with a pink leash attached.
I couldn’t resist asking her if I could pet the dog. She said yes, and I launched into my “pretty girl” talk in my ridiculous doggy voice while giving the puppy an enthusiastic (and much appreciated) petting.
I first mistook the dog for a silky terrier, but her owner corrected me saying the dog was in fact a cairn. “Like To-To!”, I commented still scratching the puppy under her chin.
“Yes,” she said “like To-To. Not many people know that.”
The owner continued, “Well, like To-To except for she’s blonde,” the owner added.
“I’ll be she has more fun than To-To,” I said.
She laughed. She’s actually watched The Wizard of Oz a couple of times,” she said, gesturing at the dog.
“Oh yah?” I said, “What did she think of it?”
The owner shrugged, “Eh. Not much.”
This made me giggle.
I looked more closely at the woman. I guessed her in her mid-fifties, thin, no make-up, with a kind face. She had on a knitted sock cap. There was nothing in her cart besides the dog and a small doggie dish with water in it in case she got thirsty. The dog was standing on a cart-sized square of cardboard.
I suppose the woman mistakenly thought I wanted an explanation (I was actually thinking how nice it was to see a dog in Wal-Mart) so she told me, “I can bring her in here because she’s working on becoming a certified therapy dog.”
“How nice,” I said.
The woman went on, “She used to be just a plain old pet until this happened.” She drew back her knitted cap to reveal a completely bald head. On the left side of her scalp was a huge c-shaped open gash at least two inches wide at its widest point.
“She must be a huge help to you,” I said looking back down at the dog that I was still reflexively petting.
“Oh, YES,” the woman said, “I don’t know what I would have done without her. Sometimes I have seizures and she can actually detect one coming on.”
“I’ve read about that,” I told her.
She asked me if I had a dog and I told her about FurGirl. She was in the midst of telling me about how Retrievers make great therapy dogs when it got to be my turn in line. I turned away from her, took care of my business, and when I turned back she was gone.
I couldn’t get her off my mind as I walked to my car. And then I thought about her all the way to my next destination. Finally, I realized: I should have invited her to Thanksgiving dinner.
Because maybe? Maybe she has a husband and three kids and two grandchildren and four invitations for Thanksgiving? But, somehow I doubt it. And if she does, it’s always nice to have another invitation, right? Also, I never learned the woman’s name or the name of her dog.
I wish I had.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Don’t miss your opportunities this holiday season. I’ve resolved to be ready the next time the universe presents me with one.