Blue had been through a rough patch.
He was adopted from the shelter and then returned for unspecified reasons. That’s when Bill met him.
Blue is an Italian mastiff, which means he is massive, just not quite as massive as an ordinary mastiff. I don’t know exactly what attracted Bill to Blue, but it’s not hard to understand. Blue is a very sweet boy. But he’d been through a lot.
Bill is still working from home most days, but he’s been going in on Wednesdays and that’s what Bill did the Wednesday before last, the first Wednesday after he adopted Blue.
That’s when Blue ate the door frame.
“Well, it stands to reason,” I told my husband, Peter. “A small dog chews up your socks when he’s anxious. A big dog eats the door frame.”
Bill asked if we could babysit Blue the next Wednesday and I was delighted. He brought Blue over and Blue watched Bill’s car drive off. That’s when Blue got a little anxious.
“It’s OK, Blue,” I said. “Bill is coming back.”
Peter distracted Blue by tossing goldfish crackers to him. Blue was a terrible catcher. Every goldfish hit the ground, but Blue was happy to eat them once they did. He kept looking for Bill’s car.
“Let’s go inside, Blue!” I said, and Blue came upstairs to my writing room while Peter got ready for his hike. Blue nervously watched me and then Peter and then me again.
When Peter went on his walk, Blue began to cry. Peter was back a few minutes later because he forgot his phone. Blue greeted him like he’d been gone a month. After Peter left the second time, Blue relaxed a little. It appeared that people left this place and then they came back. It was worrisome, but maybe it would be OK.
Blue lay down on his bed, and he spent most of the morning watching me, making sure I didn’t go anywhere.
Every so often, I’d reach down and pet his worried forehead. “It’s OK, Blue,” I said. “Peter is coming back and then Bill is coming back and everything is going to be OK.”
But I wasn’t sure if I was the best person to be reassuring him — because I’ve been Blue.
I’ve been anxious and worried and told myself that everything is going to be OK. Then I’ve replied, “That’s what you say. But how do I know for sure?”
When I think back on times I’ve been anxious, it’s hard to remember exactly what I was worried about because that is never the point. I’m just worried. Things don’t seem right. Things might not work out. I might have done something wrong. Maybe people will be unhappy with me. I know exactly what it feels like to be Blue.
But the next time I feel anxious, I have a new trick I’m going to try. I’m going to picture that big worried dog, who has reason to worry, who has been through some worrisome things, and say, “It’s OK this time. This time you are going to be fine.”
When Bill returned, Blue ran over to him and leaned his big head against him and wagged his tail.
“You see, Blue?” I said, “I told you everything was going to be fine.”
Then Blue did something I didn’t expect. He came over to me and leaned his head against me for a long moment. He wagged his tail. Then he returned to Bill.
You can think whatever you like. I’m going to believe that’s how Blue says, “Thank you.”
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.