Eight months ago Dan and I were dogless. Catless. No fish, guinea pigs, worm farms, turtles, monkeys, chickens, or llamas. We were empty nesters of the highest order. Then we found Wilson at Chatsworth Labradoodles — an irresistible ball of wagging tail and puppy breath. We were in stupid love!
But coincidentally, two weeks before Wilson was to travel from Roswell, New Mexico to his new home with us in Arizona, our daughter called. We want to do an experiment, she said. Allergies, she said. BAD, she said. Of course, we said. Two weeks, no big deal, we said. Standing on our heads, we said.
Whoo boy! Next thing we knew Scarlett was ours forever. Next thing she knew was that we loved her so much we gave her a needle-toothed puppy to hang from the skin of her neck.
She took Wilson on with such a tender heart, I am daily shamed by the lessons I learn from this package of red fur and affection. Wilson still hangs from her neck. Scarlett still lets him. Wilson is convinced we’ve hidden a secret cache of bacon just beneath the carpet and directly behind every baseboard and door casing. Scarlett wouldn’t lay a tooth on a baseboard if it was slathered in gravy and lit up with a giant neon EAT ME sign. Wilson’s like a dirty-faced little kid in overalls with a broken strap and grass-stained knees. Scarlett is the girl with white socks and Mary Jane shoes.
Wilson’s just beginning. Scarlett’s slowing down.
And the thing about Scarlett? The real thing? While Wilson endlessly and expensively eats holes into the infrastructure of our house … and yesterday’s market crash swiftly and surely disappeared a portion of our retirement fund … and Dan and I are probably going to end up in our eighties standing with our walkers, mumbling through our naked gums, Welcome to WalMart — Scarlett simply places her head on my lap and sends comfort into the depth of my bones.
The thing about Scarlett is this — she is now where our red fern grows.