Funny, the memories a cool, drenching rain recalls.
One wet day I grabbed my biggest umbrella and strolled across the street to Hannah Park. Every so often I’ll get the urge to walk in the rain. It didn’t hurt that I’d just enjoyed Gene Kelly making dance-magic in a downpour; I wanted to recapture his exuberance for a while. My day had been ‘bumpy;’ gazing at the Boardman River, dotted with vocal ducks, always lifts my spirits.
I carefully descended the steep cement stairs to the river—and came upon an amazing sight. A large golden retriever stood squarely in the middle of the meadow, eyes closed, legs spread out, paws splayed, head slightly raised, utterly transported. The rain was pouring buckets; even the ducks had sought shelter under one of the big trees. But that dog, drenched to the skin, had planted himself there, willing it to fall even harder. The wetter he got, the better he liked it. His fur actually parted in the middle from the weight of the water.
His owner, decked out in raingear, waited patiently under a tree. He noticed me watching his dog, and chuckled. “Sailor lives for these times. He does his rounds, then finds the perfect spot and places himself like that. Odd, eh? He’s too old to manage the river; it moves pretty fast- so he gets his ‘fix’ this way. I think the experience must be similar to a massage…”
“Sailor? What a great name!”
The man sighed. “Yeah; my wife and I brought him home when he was ten weeks old, and pretty quickly we noticed he took a great interest in the kitchen faucets. Then, when she decided to take a shower, and turned it on, Sailor was riveted! He yipped, then hopped in and began snapping at the spray, inspecting the drain, and generally making himself at home. Eventually he just stood there, in the same position he’s in now, and let himself get pummeled. I swear that pup smiled. We knew then what to call him.”
I looked carefully; Sailor hadn’t moved. And, by golly, he was smiling. That dog was the picture of contentment.
“He’s lucky we’re willing to indulge this; it’s rarely convenient for my wife and me to walk him in torrential rain, but we’re always rewarded.”
For nearly ten minutes we enjoyed his enjoyment. Chatting and laughing, raising our voices to accommodate the downpour, we swapped dog stories. Sailor was nine. They’d adopted him from an animal shelter in Wisconsin, where they lived. The couple had seen their daughter off to college, but within two months began suffering an acute case of ‘empty nest syndrome.’ Sailor was their cure.
The rain lessened; it was time to break the spell. The man whistled and shook the leash. “Wrap it up, partner!”
Reluctantly Sailor opened his eyes, gave a heartfelt sigh, and shook himself mightily. A ton of water flew every which way. Two more vigorous shakes, and they squelched over to a blue van. After a thorough toweling, Sailor hopped onto the tarped front passenger seat, accepted a large milkbone, and dispatched it with relish. “We bought a heck of a hairdryer when the house started to reek of ‘sopping canine.’ Making him acceptable takes time, but it’s necessary. He settles down to wait for rain; when he dreams, it’s not about squirrels, believe me.”
A cheerful wave, and they were off to join his wife. Sailor sat, sodden and happy. Obviously this was a familiar routine.
I sloshed home, grinning in the rain.