So I’ve let the dog out into the backyard to go pee, at about the same time as I do every day, and she trots on out, does her business then goes sniffing around the new look I’ve given the southeast corner before coming back to the grassy area under the tree with the fragrant little blossoms (whose name I still do not know) and sitting down.

Most of the time she comes trotting right back inside after she’s finished, but on occasion she likes to linger a bit. This is one of those occasions so I come out from the backdoor and grab a seat on the low brick wall next to the walkway and Shadow’s just sitting there looking back at me intently with that look she has and I tell her I’m in no rush to get back inside if she isn’t. So she walks her front paws out in front of her and lays down.

And the the wind chimes are chiming and the late-afternoon sun is shining and the pre-dusk blue of the sky is especially vibrant and from the tree boughs above Shadow fall those aromatic little flowers like rain, and she’s still staring at me with this lazer look and before I know it I’m all teared up because of… hell I don’t know. Because it was just so damn beautiful. And because I’m so damn lucky and double damn thankful. For everything. For my wife. For my life. For Shadow. For the backyard. And the sun. And the breeze.

If this were a script, Shadow would rise sensing my emotion and come to me comfortingly, but this isn’t a script and Shadow just relaxes there looking at me and looking around, and scratching behind her ear, and letting out one of her huge sneezes, the kind in which the forward recoil drives her nose into the ground, which of course makes her sneeze again even harder.

And that made me weepy all the more because it was just as it should be, with Shadow at home and comfortable in her backyard for what I hope will be many more years to come. And maybe that’s part of why I got all choked up, too. Because it’s been such a strange journey getting to this point. For me and Shadow. And I’m so blessed that things have worked out the way they have.

Eventually the sounds of Pepper and Jiggy wrestling in the kitchen brings Shadow out of her meditative respose. She rises to cross to the walkway and trots down past me to the screen door where she waits for me to unlatch it so she can enter and disperse the play-fighting felines.

I wipe my eyes and get up to open it for her.