Love is blind. I know this to be true because Sumo-Pokey (his hyphenated name derived from his physique as well as his general demeanor) is our blind and mostly deaf pug. At
nearly 14 years old, he is becoming more and more like a pillow. Soft and placid, content mostly to stay in one place most of the time, except around 5 p.m. when his internal alarm clock tells him it’s approaching supper. It’s then that he begins to pace around the kitchen door, politely (and sometimes sassily) reminding us that another day has slipped by … a day when working from home has meant grading projects submitted remotely by my students, planning (and praying) for their continued online engagement in learning, and helping my wife herd our two granddaughters, Louise and Margaux, as they ride bike (Louise, age 5) and balance-bike (Margaux, age 4) relentlessly back and forth circling the alley behind our house.
Sometimes Sumo accompanies them, resting on the small patch of grass tucked between cement slabs that flank the alleyway, much to the pleasure of Margaux, who calls him “Sumo-Puppy” – an ironic moniker, but one that still holds its own form of truth, because to Margaux this old, blind, deaf pug is still a puppy who patiently receives her hugs and withstands her other boisterous attentions as she attempts to share her enthusiasm for life with him while he rests his oversized head on the memory-foam pillow he seems to love more with each passing week.
When Sumo is not patiently enduring Margaux’s attention, or sleeping on that beloved pillow, he’s usually at my feet while I attempt to work from the dining room table at
home. That’s nothing unusual for him, or for me, since teaching duties don’t disappear when the students board their yellow buses every afternoon. But somehow there’s something more comforting than usual in his regular presence there these days. He’s a reminder that, despite the growing tumult of the pandemic, and the closure of my school building, the world is still going on in its usual, regular, normal pattern for some. Indeed, the world will go on in its usual, regular, normal pattern whether or not I eventually contract COVID-19.
Watching Sumo-Pokey snore, his head on my right shoe as I try not to move my foot and disturb his slumber, I am reminded that there have always been diseases, and somehow the world has continued rotating every 24 hours, circling the sun every 365 days. There’s no need to let anxiety about work or the collapse of the stock market or even the possible
loss of loved ones cause undue sturm and drang in my daily existence. What will be will be. I’ll have to be more intentionally like Sumo-Pokey, if the expected symptoms someday arrive. If he can take Margaux’s poking and prodding without complaint, and wag his tail in the process even without being able to see her adoring face, I should be able to do the same should the coronavirus come calling at my door. Sumo is a comfort, a living pillow whose patience and affection are offered without expectation of recompense. I find comfort in his presence.
Before becoming a high school teacher, Michael Goodrich-Stuart wrote and directed writers professionally for more than 20 years. His first career was spent working as an advertising copywriter, copy chief and creative director in Michigan, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Virginia. During his advertising tenure, he received numerous industry awards, ranging from Addys and Tellys to Caddys and Echos. Today he draws on his career experience in the classroom – combining a love for the English language with a past that paid him well for using it. Michael is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he wrote for The State News and earned a degree in Journalism. Sumo is his second pug. He and his wife, Jill, have had Bundle and Smokey as well. He also has four accomplished children, all of whom love pugs, their other pets, and their parents.
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