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The Tentacle


May 6, 2011

My Best Friendís Spring

Roy Meachum

Pushkin turns the human equivalent of 91 years on July 9, a little over two months from now. He was born in 1998, twelve weeks before I turned 70.

 

The English pointer and I make a daily spectacle of ourselves on North Market Street; in this warmer season we parade twice, mornings and late afternoons. Our first stop is always Rags and Riches. Master tailor John “Murdock” Hebron usually has a treat for my friend. We stay awhile. John and I swap stories. Customers come and go, not talking of Michelangelo but their needs: letting out trousers, reshaping skirts and sometimes asking John to refashion clothing. As I said, he has a master’s touch.

 

Owner Pat at Alicia L’s trendy women’s apparel guarantees Pushkin a treat; when she’s not there, a charming stand-in does the honors. Except for early weekdays our next stop is in En Masse, which announces on a sign opened on sidewalk: “Historic Frederick’s Flower Mart.” Creator and creative Sharon is always glad to welcome our pair. Coming home, Whitesell’s Annemarie makes cooing noises while she offers snacks to my four-legged companion. That’s our North Market patrol.

 

Not mentioned were the constant attentions showered on the English pointer, shy children and parents who sometimes ask “Does he bite?” My answer is sometimes ridiculous: “Sure I take him out in public so he can attack people and they can sue me for everything I own.” In our almost-13 years together, I recall the single time Pushkin drew blood and it was from a dog that attacked him. He doesn’t even snarl. He treats pets on our promenade generally by ignoring them; sometimes a particular canine catches his fancy. Female or male makes no difference to my neutered buddy. Maybe it has to do with age.

 

Stacy Degrazia took over from Jane Saylor as his veterinarian; Jane treated my critters since moving up from Bethesda. However, Stacy gives Pushkin acupuncture every two weeks, with the firm and reassuring patience that my friend deserves. The only times he’s been yelled at in our years together were instances I saw a danger to him. At the end of their sessions, a thick mat of his hair winds up on the floor, which the vet doctor cleans up.

 

Acupuncture was prescribed when the West Frederick Veterinary Hospital X-rays discovered an “arthritis-like” growth in his lower spine. Even with Stacy’s pins and needles my best friend’s legs can still collapse on him; the treatments work. While he quivers as we park at the hospital, he bounds out, ready to take on the world, so to speak. He still needs help getting up on the back seat.

 

Mornings we have developed a long-standing ritual; he comes around to my side of the bed. For several minutes, I stroke his head and back, telling him how much I love him, something he knows already, but the ritual helps me. In fact, everyone who sees the English pointer and me together can swear to the fact.

 

Pushkin, thanks for putting up with me. Future trips, as everyone has been told, are out. I want to spend your future not far from you.

 



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