This is the first in a series of autobiographical short stories by author Rita Antoinette Borg, collectively titled A Funny Thing Happened to Me….

A funny thing happened to me after going to the hospital for my coronavirus booster shot. Wintry, grey clouds wrung unceasingly and everyone knows the results; Malta mutates to a sunken, lost island under the sea. Yet, this is not the point of my story, not by a long shot. As I entered my home, I met the unwelcoming pose of my dog, Dakota.

She peered at me with canine anger, pretty much saying, “Finally…. out again? Where did you go this time? What took you so long…?” I hadn’t been interrogated like this since my teenage years by my father. Dakota wouldn’t come next to me for our usual welcome home cuddle. Instead, she sauntered to the kitchen stepped gingerly into the living room, jumped on the sofa and closed her eyes. She would have nothing to do with me. Her disgust showed big time.

This would have to suffice for comfort as I waited for what the hospital nurse warned me about this booster shot, “Be prepared for ill effects for at least two days.” Though tired, hungry and hugging an aching arm, I craved some doggy loving before the day wore on; but Dakota vetoed me. Essentially, I can’t really blame her.

Toto and Dorothy in the film 'The Wizard of Oz'. Photo: WikipediaToto and Dorothy in the film 'The Wizard of Oz'. Photo: Wikipedia

Look not from a human internal perspective but from your dog’s viewpoint. Along with, Toby, a mixed Yorkshire terrier who could be easily mistaken for another breed; a Cairn (think Dorothy’s dog, Toto, of 1939 The Wizard of Oz), I had the best study companions. Ever. After five gritty years of studying for my English degree including the last two years of our COVID-restricted movements from in and out of the house, I believe Dakota had gotten the impression I needn’t exit my house ever again. Perpetually!

There’s more. After my final exams last June, Toby died. While I mourned my loss, Dakota thrived. The two dogs never, ever got along – a case of hate at first sight. They were as different as ice cream and soup, marbles and marshmallows, summer and winter. So, after Toby’s passing, I wholeheartedly promised Dakota a second dog would not pass my threshold. We pawed and pinkie swore and all that! But alas, it was not meant to last.

On October 29, ironically during another enormous storm, my daughter bought a puppy. And well, let’s say, the puppy visits often. At the time of writing this, I’ve finished with my studying, COVID has decreased slightly, and I am venturing out of the house more. What’s a dog to do but pout, big time! My silly doggy!

So now I’m writing about it. Finally, she opens her eyes. We gaze at each other. I go up to her as she yawns on my dog-worn sofa. I snuggle up to her, her jaws gently capture then press on my wrist between her teeth. It’s her way of hugging me. She has forgiven me; dogs forgive so easily. Her black and white fur tickles; our faces meet as we rub noses. I tell her, “Give me a second. I want to write one more sentence, then we’ll play.” She nods in her doggedly, knowing way and waits, while I type: ‘Thank you, Lord, for creating dogs’.

In this picture, author Rita Antoinette Borg takes over as Mark Twain in Hartford, Connecticut’s Museum of Mark Twain.In this picture, author Rita Antoinette Borg takes over as Mark Twain in Hartford, Connecticut’s Museum of Mark Twain.

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