Dog bath |

Dog bath

Derek Franz
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Except for the fat raindrops falling in the field and splatting in the mud, it was a quiet afternoon.

I must have looked crazy, taking the dog out to frolic in that weather. Water ran off the bill of my yellow hat and down the back of my blue, sopping jacket as I walked along, leaving Soleille behind to sniff something.

I knew that she would run to catch up when I got far enough ahead. I kept an ear cocked, waiting to hear her sprinting paws galloping toward me like a race horse.

Sure enough, a rising Doppler effect gave way to her blasting by on the left, kicking up mud. She was as fast as ever with the traction allowed by the tacky earth, and I marveled how far apart the paw prints were.

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Soleille slowed down to a trot before stopping to turn around with a happy grin. She resumed her sniffs and let me walk ahead again. She needed to get out despite the weather. Maybe I did, too.

We were cooped in the house, and I was waiting to see if the rain would stop before I took the dog out, but it just kept coming. I decided not to let that hold me from a dose of fresh air.

Death, loss and pain have been the theme this summer. My girlfriend’s brother died unexpectedly in July. We were rained out at a concert in the park the night before we heard about his death, and it was raining when we got the call in the morning.

Ever since, all this gray, soaking water falling from the sky doesn’t seem to end. My girlfriend is even falling asleep as she reads a book titled “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

As she copes with grief, I’m inevitably alienated at times. I’ve been thinking of my own personal losses in those moments, wondering if I ever really grieved or just stuffed it away.

I was 14 when my mom’s parents died two weeks apart from each other. That was in the spring and I was struggling in school. My grandpa was the first to go – a heart attack in the kitchen. Then I flew down to Phoenix in time to hold my grandma’s hand as she died in the hospital after a freak accident, but that’s mostly all I remember. That, and listening to heavy metal with my headphones on the airplane.

The death of my other grandma haunts me even more. I was in college. My older cousin and I had a four-day climbing trip planned when she insisted we come to a family dinner. We chose to go on the climbing trip instead of blowing our fall break for one dinner. I never saw her alive after that. Then again, I haven’t climbed with my cousin in the desert since then, either.

More recently, my great-uncle died of cancer. Despite all that, I have no idea what it’s like to lose a brother.

People remind me that my girlfriend will never be the same again. She knows it, too. Of course I worry how things will turn out. Sometimes a person never swims to the shore of that kind of sadness.

“Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair.” It’s like the pitter-patter of this friggin’ rain that keeps repeating the phrase, as if we don’t get it. Maybe we don’t. Just because we haven’t seen the sun in days doesn’t mean we’re more likely to see it tomorrow.

Bad stuff happens. Yet we still have to go to work. It rains but the race goes on.

Those who can deal with it will come out ahead. Too bad for the rest, who lose their control in the adversity. That’s pretty much the theme of the book my girlfriend is reading.

I’ve been reading it, too, after it found its way into my hands through circumstance, and I didn’t think much about its parallels to my life until I took Soleille to the dog park.

There was a striking beauty to have the place to ourselves. The rain continued to pour, but the sun came out. The dog looked so happy sprinting across the field that I joined her, forgetting the misery of the day long enough to feel blood and breath pumping through my body.

The day brightened for me – as I ran under the arc of a fleeting rainbow – but it continued to rain on the dog. Her white fur was so muddy when we got to our front door, I picked her up and put her straight in the shower. And that made my lady very happy.

– “Open Space” appears on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Derek Franz writes for the Eagle Valley Enterprise and lives in Glenwood Springs. He can be reached at

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