Lessons from Dogs: Disappointment and Faith

I spend a lot of my time in my chair at my desk, and my dog spends a lot of time watching me in my chair at my desk. And every time I get up, she leaps up, ready—more than ready.

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“Sorry, pup,” I say. “Just getting a glass of water.”

Or, “Sorry, little D, just getting a snack.”

Or, “Sorry, sweet girl, just going to the bathroom.”

That one is always cause for barking, turning circles and then—oops, sitting at attention, her whole body vibrating with excitement and good-dog-ness, because she knows that if I were to go out on a W-A-L-K, I would pee first and then I would ask her to sit—good-dog—and stay before I opened the door.

But most of the time it is: “Sorry, goofball, just peeing.”

And sometimes it is worse: “Sorry, little one, time for your heartworm pill—or time to clip your nails, or, or, or.”

And I go back to my desk and she goes back to lying at my feet—she’s there now, dozing and twitching.

There’s another email in my inbox—a response from a journal where I have submitted an essay or from a writer’s residency where I have submitted an application or from an agent to whom I have sent a query letter—and I wait a moment before I open it, because there’s still room for hope: are we going to walk together?

I huff a sigh out—another rejection—and my dog looks up, her own dream interrupted.

Sorry, dear writer, they say, not this time, not this place, not this piece.

I mark “no” on my little spreadsheet where I keep a record of my submissions and make a note of where to send to next.

And then I say, “C’mon, Katonah. Let’s go for a walk.”

Because she always says “yes,” and she will wait, with utter faith and love, until I say “yes,” too.

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