Dog Hair Stories

Harley smiles.JPG

In the beginning, you see dog hair as evidence: you need to clean the house better, and more often. Evidence to prove you are a rumpled adolescent to everyone else’s adult. Other people have clean floors, you think. Other people have crisp, tailored wardrobes entirely unsullied by dog hair.

You misunderstand the message, so I repeat it, shedding downy Post-its on every surface. On your floor, on your most adult clothing, on your pillow. I laugh and tuck a few stray hairs in your mouth.

Look again, and see: that he barreled in from the sunshine, smiling, trailing dry leaves and dirt. That he slept on this rug for happy hours, then fishtailed on the rough surface, pinwheeling his legs in the air, woofing in pleasure.

Sweep the kitchen floor and gather memories of all the nights you two laughed together over a bottle of wine, teaching him to sit, to eat from a fork, to delicately slurp one long strand of pasta offered from on high.

Brush off your jeans and feel how he squares his big body across your thighs, leaning in, stepping on your foot for good measure. How you bend down to hug him, every time, swooning when his coat smells of petrichor.

***

On a trip to New York, pull a single white strand from your sleeve and hold the weight of how much you miss him. Tell yourself that someday, the dog hair in your hand will be all you have left of him. Feel the thought crush your heart in your chest, feel grief sparking like static down your arms.

Dare to trust what this body tells you: it is a lie.

Tentatively, gently, turn your story inside-out and try it back on: This dog’s soul and your own – like his double coat and your favorite sweater – are forever entangled.   

Smile then, and weave the coarse white hair back into the fabric.

***

A Great Pyrenees sheds hair the way a heart pumps blood or a mind creates thoughts: all day, every day, all his life. Brushing becomes your ritual. His breath, your meditation bell. Bring yourself to the floor. Pull the brush down his back with one hand and stroke his coat with the other, over and over, drawing a rhythm. Dissolve knots where you find them. Marvel at his lion’s mane. Laugh and stretch when he’s had enough and runs away from you. Bow low as you make a downy offering to the compost pile and the birds.

In the end, there is simply this: your hands scratching his shoulders, feeling the soft sable of his ears. No story. No past. No future. All of Creation gazing out in adoration, first through brown eyes, then through green. His big shaggy head pushing into your chest as your heart and your life expand. As the dog hair drifts in the breeze, becoming Love.