Sunday, May 29, 2011
Roadway (A Dog Story)
A steady rain has turned the Pilot Truck Stop in Bowman, South Carolina into a concrete slab of humidity and dampness. As the rain soaks the late evening, 18 wheelers rumble in and out, air brakes hiss and spit, and potholes filled with water are splashed empty only to refill again and again.
Travelers come and go, doors open, tanks are filled, oil dipsticks are checked, hoods are slammed shut, and cars and massive trucks roar off into the rain soaked night.
On the damp cool pavement unnoticed by so many lies a pile of dirty wet black fur. She's curled up nose to tail and despite the never ending cycle of gas and go, she attempts a doggie nap.
Roadway is clearly a trucker's dog. Her crooked tail shows all the signs of a couple of painful encounters with a slamming Kenworth door.
She's a Black Lab mix, with all the Lab features, except the two white socks on her hind feet and the "just a tad" too short ears. But her personality is all Labrador Retriever.
She is a perpetual optimist.
Suddenly Roadway is up, and while her gait is unsteady at first, once she gets some momentum the affects of her noticeable arthritis diminish, a few strides later her tail begins to wag.
I watch her as she moves cautiously towards a small boy of seven who is traveling in a car full of family. Roadway's crooked tail is in full happy mode, as the boy carefully extends his hand. The boy's mother holds her breath and his father is ready to move in if needed. But Roadway is a Lab, she sits and leans against the boy and gladly nuzzles his open hand.
Roadway is homeless, she is muddy, generally wet and a little overweight. I'd guess her story goes something like this:
I was raised in the cab of a Kenworth and for eleven years I rode shotgun in that truck, living off scrapes and double cheeseburger happy meals. But as the miles rolled on and time took it's toll it became harder for me to get up into the cab of the tractor trailer rig that was my home.
A few nights ago when I couldn't get up into the cab, even after several attempts, my owner told me to stay and I watched the taillights of the only home I've ever known drive up the hill and vanish into the night.
Roadway circles the boy and and sits again. The boy hugs the dog and his sister comes up to say hello. She too is greeted with a happy tail and the gentleness that is the hallmark of Labrador Retrievers with children.
My tank is full and I still have 150 miles to go. The air is heavy with more rain on the way.
I tell the father she'd be a good dog. He asks the appropriate questions, and I give him my best guess. She would be a good dog I repeat. I suggest that the dad ask inside. But assure him she belongs to whoever will give her a good home.
My wheels turn, the wipers jump and settle, a turn signal, a splash. I don't look back. I can't look back.
The miles go by, and I imagine that by now Roadway is somehow wedged between and young boy and girl. That the Lab is now drifting off to a long uninterrupted doggie nap, contently resting her head in the lap of the boy while the vibration of rushing pavement under the wheels turn effortlessly up the interstate.
I am a perpetual optimist.