Sleep eludes me. It passes by and lands on Mavis snoring lightly on the pillow next to mine. The moon shines on her soft hair and exposes her vulnerability. I wonder why dogs give humans the time of day only to be exploited in countless ways but occasionally find themselves fortunate to settle in a home where somebody loves them, even holds them dearer than people. Mavis shows me her gratitude every morning when she wakes before me but sits nearby watching for my eyes to open. Then she smiles and licks my face lightly before leaping from the bed to sit next to the back door waiting to explore the garden where I have my morning coffee.

We position ourselves in the sunshine and enjoy an easterly breeze, a special moment of the day for both of us. After bringing Mavis home, I immediately took her to the back garden and showed her all the flowers, trailing vines, and a rabbit who gave us the brief pleasure of his company. But Mavis trembled from fright over her new surroundings and the shock of being suddenly left at a strange place full of barking dogs howling the same lament of abandonment. I felt her sink into my embrace, crying from confusion. The shelter people said her dog mom let her go because they were expecting a baby and couldn’t juggle both. I wondered how limited a person would have to be to toss away her dog because a baby was about to join the family. What would happen if the woman gave birth to a second baby? Would she throw away the first one?

Mavis sat in her own sadness for two months before beginning to trust me as a possibility for permanence. We joined a beginner canine class so she could be around other dogs, and I could find out what she knows, keep her stimulated and bonding to the one who would never leave her. The trainer called her brilliant. Naturally, my pride grew some, but Mavis took it in stride as though she knew a dog’s intelligence exceeded that of a human’s in an intuitive sort of way. On occasion, she would let her thoughts spill into my thoughts and I would hear the word love.

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