Luna accompanies me everywhere. She’s always glad for a ride in the car; if she can enter a store or other business with me, she is overjoyed. Yesterday, we dropped some plants off at Kelley & Kelley Nursery in my town of Long Lake, Minnesota. The plants won’t survive two weeks inside the house because certain felines shred the fragrant heliotrope’s leaves, uproot the thirty year old aloes and bat the poor things across the floor, and generally make a mess in the dirt. Run-of-the-mill plants, or ones that cherish neglect can go to my studio in the walkout basement, but the house is dry, I am often oblivious to their needs and everything looks like hell by spring. I always lose a plant or two or three and rue the five minutes or so I have spent on the things over the six months of winter as time wasted that I will never recover.
Kelley & Kelley has a fine greenhouse with a friendly and knowledgeable staff that takes great care of my plants. Last spring, I was delighted when I picked up the heliotrope, the aloes and the rosemary plant. They’d not only survived, they had thrived in their winter home. As I said, for several reasons, their lifespan in my home would be severely truncated.
So, we got to the nursery, Luna and I. She waited in the car while I took the small potted heliotrope in. The rosemary is in a huge clay pot. While I can lift and carry it, from unpleasant experience I know that my back will be full of spite and resentment the next day, so I asked the woman at the desk for some help. When I opened the Subaru’s door, Luna greeted her as a long-lost friend with plenty of tail wagging and kisses. That led to an invitation for my dog to join us in the building.
Luna was happy to meet two more new friends, one of whom was finishing up a yogurt. The dog tried to help herself to the snack but after a polite rebuff was off to race up and down the mostly empty aisles of the greenhouse, back for a quick recheck of the humans (to see if there was any more yogurt, I presume) then off to the greenhouse again.
Luna was enthusiastically invited to visit again any old time. Me? I think they can take or leave me.
Meanwhile, it is so much fun for me to have a dog to accompany me on my errands, one that can successfully enter a place of business and BE ASKED BACK. Until a few months ago, I always had two or three dogs. Daisy, whom I mourn every day, was nonetheless not an easy dog to take out and about. She was fearful of most people and wary of new places, scents, sights. It was stressful to a degree that I don’t even want to recall any longer to take that beautiful dog anywhere. And my old Golden/Lab Rusty was certainly a friendly boy but as he got older, he too got stressed when we weren’t at home so I had 70 pounds of panting unhappiness at the end of the leash. When Luna wasn’t a Not-So-Lonely Only, I didn’t think twice about leaving them all at home most of the time.
The first few times we went out together, Luna was nervous and would sometimes react unpleasantly, especially when startled, but as she has gained experience her confidence has soared. After visiting a couple of places enough that she was completely comfortable there, we’ve branched out and now we will go anywhere they’ll let us in. The other day, we stopped in a new little dog food store where the owner commented on what a GOOD dog I had. Luna was just sitting there minding her own business, but I have seen and handled worse, so was pleased with the compliment.
It wasn’t a conscious training effort on my part, and being lazy to a fault, I like things that take little or not effort. It was just a matter of letting a good dog learn that going out in the world and being friendly can garner you praise, dog treats and maybe a surreptitious lick of yogurt.