At MICE last weekend, we found a dog under our table, sniffing the boxes of comics we’d brought to sell.
“Hello!” Cara squealed, clutching its face. The dog was a burst of black and brown hair. A few terriers mixed with some larger dogs, perhaps.
“Her name is Raisin,” the lean man on the other side of the table said.
“Hi Raisin!” Cara squealed again.
The man saw an opportunity where Cara saw a new friend. We agreed to watch Raisin while he explored the rest of the fair. Feeding the leash under the table, he told us his name was Smatt. “Like Stephen and Matthew,” he said.
Raisin lay between our chairs, nuzzling my feet. I scratched her ear as she turned to her side and silently lifted her right legs in the air. This surprised me. I’ve owned a cat for fourteen years, and I know it takes some time and trust for him to start exposing his most vulnerable side to someone. But here I was, such a stranger that she would not remember me past Tuesday, and I was rubbing her belly like we were besties.
I kneeled on the floor and she licked my cheek. She planted her head between my knees, then lowered her eyes. This was the most serene affection I had ever received from a dog. Normally, any time I am introduced a new dog, its owner has to start shouting something like, “Scruffles! Get down! Down!” But Raisin expressed no interest in jumping. It was as if she learned long ago that jumping is not as great as everyone says it is. We watched her explore the area around us as she regarded the scents of the other exhibitors curiously. When she returned to lie beneath our table, we returned to rubbing her belly and scratching her ears.
This little beast had the kind of energy you get from some animals that makes you feel they have a special understanding of the world. They are in lives that do not share your anxieties and political opinions. They are at peace with themselves, and when they look at you, you feel – for a moment – better about yourself. Or maybe that was just me and Raisin.
She saw Smatt return to the table before we did. With ears perked up, she was eager to join him on the other side. Smatt bought some of our books and thanked us. We gushed about how sweet Raisin was. “Where did you find her?” I asked.
“In the desert,” he said. “I was walking in the Texas desert two years ago, and I found her behind a bush.”
We said goodbye, and Smatt told Raisin to Sit and Speak. Raisin released a powerful crack of dog lightening, startling everyone in the room. They exited into the crowd, walking side by side.