Matt Potter 6:30 a.m., May 22
Bliss, my Labrador Retriever, is afraid of chrome objects and has been since the day I got her spayed. That was eleven years ago, and although she has forgiven me, she hasn't forgotten what happened. She shakes and shivers whenever she's in an animal hospital, or even thinks she's entering one.
I worried about this when I signed her up for picture day at Petco. She's twelve now, and just as frightened as ever. She thinks nothing of growling in my pit bull's face, but take her to the pet store or another shiny place and suddenly she becomes cream cheese.
"Is this Bliss?" the photographer asked in her sweetest voice. I looked up to see a cute girl with short, black hair and very blue eyes.
"Yes," I replied. "We've been walking around for an hour to get her used to the place."
"What a great idea!"
As Bliss stepped onto the mat, I hoped she wouldn't see the metallic umbrella behind us. But the upraised camera alone was enough to make her pant heavily. And then her back leg started to shake. For the next ten minutes, I tried every trick in the dog training books to get her to sit, lie down, or watch me. She wouldn't even take a treat and soon my heart sank at the thought of not getting one good shot to remember her by.
"Do you think a pillow will help?" the girl asked.
No, but at that point I was willing to try anything.
The girl disappeared behind the racks of dog beds and returned with a fat, ochre pillow--just the right accessory to make Bliss look like a queen. I got excited until the photographer raised her camera again. Then Bliss took off, leaving a huge wet spot behind.
I was aghast. The pillow must have cost at least sixty dollars. And when the girl carried it to the back room, a yellow trail appeared on the floor. Customers were stepping in it, around it, and over it. In one afternoon, Bliss had given "where the pets go" a whole new meaning.
The girl returned with a roll of paper towels, and it soon became clear I was the one who would clean up the mess. As she handed me one towel at a time, I was on my hands and knees about to panic. The more I wiped the floor, the more pee there seemed to be. I knew from experience that a girl who had never changed a dirty diaper would be on the verge of vomiting.
"Would you like me to try for more pictures?" she asked, probably hoping I'd say "no."
"Yes, please," I replied. I was determined to get at least one shot of my dearest friend; even if she did look like she was being held for ransom.
The girl snapped the button a couple of times with Bliss looking everywhere but at the camera. Finally, she gave up and moved to the table with her laptop on it. After tapping the keys for awhile, a brilliant picture of Bliss appeared on the screen.
"I can't believe it!" I said. "You'd think she just spent the day at the dog park."
"Digital photography is amazing," she told me.
I hadn't thought it possible, but I wound up purchasing five different poses that day. I left the store feeling satisfied, even though the girl didn't ask me to enter the contest to win an even bigger picture package.
Gee, I wonder why.