My canine muse is no longer under foot or snoring down the hall, but that doesn't mean she isn't working her magic by way of other people's dogs.
Her presence is missed more than ever because now that the immediate grief is passing, we are talking about our memories of her.
We recently laughed and pointed down at some deep scratches on the floor saying, "Remember when Cleo would fly down the hall when you came home, then hit the couch and end up dancing around your legs?"
We are not ready to have another dog in the family, but that doesn't mean other dogs haven't been helping me through this time.
A bonus from living in San Francisco with its many dogs is the simple fact that it isn't too difficult to find dogs out walking in any neighborhood.
These surrogates have been doing a great job lightening my moods, and reminding me of why Grouchy Puppy exists, and why advocating for senior dogs remains my passion. Each time a dog walks by me, even if they don't acknowledge my presence, it's an elbow to the ribs reminding me how much dogs positively influence our lives, if we let them.
These strangers and their dogs are encouraging me without knowing it.
It's okay to see my dog in the expressions and play bows of other dogs. It feels right to find new ways to talk about why senior dogs rule, from other elderly pups. I know another dog won't replace Cleo but I can feel myself moving closer to seeing other dogs for who they are as individual personalities, and that is a light in the tunnel of grief I am determined to get closer to.
For five years Cleo has been the driving force behind Grouchy Puppy and most of my writing. Shifting gears hasn't been easy but then neither were those early months [8 lost teeth] with our newly adopted dog, and look how life turned out? She inspired so much!
So if you see a strange lady smile at your dog, maybe wave her fingers a little while chirping a few words while ignoring you, that might be me.
Hopefully if you're reading this then you'll understand, I'm on a quest and your sweet senior dog (and not so senior) is reminding me of all the valuable life lessons initiated by Cleo.