Therapy Dog

I had a good weekend.

It had been a long work week inventorying the archives. Taking an inventory of an archives is not like doing it at Target – there are no barcodes to swiftly scan into a little computer. Nope, at the archives, inventorying means reading every label of every item contained in the vault and matching it to our location guides. There are over 500,000 items in our vault. I was asked to go through the oversized material, which here at the state archives, is composed of gigantic 20 lb+ county record books from ca. 1700-1900. The books span from floor to ceiling, and I had to use a heavy steel ladder to reach all of them. Also, the covers are made of animal skin and like most (all?) organic materials, they disintegrate with age; by the end, I felt less like an archivist and more like a taxidermist. Ew.

Plus, our house was broken into two weeks ago, which had put both Andrew and I on edge. Andrew spent the better part of last week installing locks, motion-sensor lights, more locks, hiding keys, etc. I was stressed by his stress. I needed a break from worrying, and from talking about security. I’ve always been the kind of person who believes people are generally good and to have to protect myself against “bad people” wore heavily on my psyche and emotions.

So, first, we got another dog, and named her Mesa (like MAY-suh, not Mess-ah).

Some people might feel adding another creature to our home would increase stress, not reduce it. And it certainly has made doing some routine tasks, like leaving the house, more difficult. But it also gave me something else to focus on and if I thrive on anything, it is taking care of animals (and sometimes plants, sisters, other peoples’ babies, etc.).

Mesa is a dog’s dog. She is about 40lbs of wiggly, clumsy, strong, sweet, obedient, drooly, shaggy animal and I have loved working with her so far. Sometimes she stinks, sometimes she growls, and she has taken to jumping on the bed when she isn’t supposed to – but if you had seen her at the Heron Lake this weekend, you would know why I needed her. (Next time, we’ll make a video.)

While teeny Lupe slowly and thoughtfully stepped into the water to ponder a tree’s reflection, Mesa hopped, jumped, and ran back and forth along the water’s edge, like a lunatic, like this moment was definitely the best moment of her life, and she was going to ENJOY THE HECK out of it. She got muddy, she slipped on rocks, chomped the splashing water – and periodically ran back to us people (including Lupe), standing reservedly on the shore. I love watching dogs lose their minds during play. It is relieving and calming to see such enjoyment… and it’s really funny! Sometimes as an adult, it’s hard to laugh. There’s Stuff to worry about. But for me, watching Mesa – a shelter dog, with an unknown, probably scary, sad past – was like therapy: an affirmation of the beauty and fun of life, of resiliency and strength, of not taking yourself too seriously, ever, and being appreciative of things like nature, love, romping, getting dirty, and afterward– rest.

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(The thieves took my digital camera, so these photos are courtesy Andrew and his iPhone.)


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