A Goldendoodle Puppy Struggles with Social Distancing

The morning starts like every other morning in the new yellow house. When I make my quiet yipping sounds, the human who smells like warm happiness and sleep, comes to me, opens my crate, and pets me.

She rubs my back with her strong fingers. It feels like heaven.

Out into the backyard, which sometimes smells like skunk or something else wild and terrible, but wonderful too, she tells me “potty!” and I pee. She brings treats in her pocket and they are delicious and peanut buttery and they smell like her too. I eat them quickly in case she decides to give me more.

Back inside, she feeds me from her warm hand, sitting in the kitchen while it is still dark. I slurp up the kibble from her salty fingers until it is gone. I always look for more.

It’s then that she gets the blue leash and tells me “sit!” and when I do she puts the leash on me and takes me out into the wild cold world in front of the yellow house. While she slips her shoes on, I steal another shoe from the porch, carrying it to the springy bushes, where I chew furiously, before she takes it away. She pretends to hate this but I see the way her eyes look, friendly happy eyes, and her voice, which sounds like happy love.

Down the walkway we go then, and around the circle we walk, me smelling the grass, her always cold, even though I am the one in the wet weeds. The best part is the smells. I try to drag her faster, farther, but she walks slowly, firmly, holding me back.

It’s when we reach the end of the circle, ready to cross, that the little girl comes out of her house across the street. We hear her before we see her. First the sound of the golden halo of light clicking on beside the door. Then the rattle of the knob, and the creak of the screen and the little girl with short choppy hair emerges, usually with a toy in her hand, something I’d like to chew. Her mom is right behind her, with coffee in hand and a bag on her shoulder. She feels tired and hurried and sad.

But I never look at her. I look instead at the little girl, who must smell like peanut butter and dirty feet and sunshine. And she looks back at me. Stops right where she is halfway down the path. Reaches out her hand toward me.

I can feel her joy, so excited to see me. I am excited too and my whole body shakes, my tail wagging so hard it almost knocks me over, so that she will know how very much I want to meet her.

But my human stands like a tree, unmoving, across the street from the golden light and the wonderful little girl. I pull harder and bark.

Then I hear the little girl’s voice, ringing out clear and loud through the dark silence of the early morning. “Can I please pet your puppy?!”

The golden sun is rising now and birds are beginning to sing.

And I feel the way my human sags a little, the way sadness seeps out of her as she answers.

“I’m sorry, not right now. We’re not supposed to get too close right now.”

And while I wag desperately the little girl’s mother hurries her down the walkway and into her car while my human just stands, still and resolute.

The car roars to life and the little girl, still watching me, zooms away down the road, away from our little circle.

The light by her porch clicks off.

And we are still standing, feet wet, in the beautiful quiet silence.

My human talks to me then in her soft gentle voice, “it’s okay, Teddy, we’ll meet her soon.”

And slowly, we begin to walk again, less joyful this time than before.

Annelise Pierce
Annelise Pierce is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy. She has a special interest in criminal justice, poverty, mental health and education. Her long and storied writing career began at age 11 when she won the Louisa May Alcott Foundation's Gothic Romance short story competition. (Spoiler alert - both hero and heroine die.) Annelise welcomes your (civil) interactions at AnnelisePierce@anewscafe.com
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

21 Responses

  1. Avatar Carrie says:

    Heartwrenching but beautiful story! I love all your posts, Annelise.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Carrie: thank you! Not my typical piece, but when I experienced this scene it felt like such a microcosm of the many ways social distancing affects all of us. This would be better as a children’s book. 🙂 Thanks for appreciating.

  2. Avatar Dodie Maguire says:

    As an owner of a Yorkiepoo who acts like your pup, I loved the story and really related to it and how it uplifted my morning. I sent it to a GoldenDoodle lover in Marin Co.

  3. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    Beautifully written, Annelise. Brought a tear to my eye for its truth and sweet simplicity.

    • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

      Eleanor, it made me cry too. There is something so deep about the need for human contact. I felt Teddy’s actions helped explain something I’ve been unable to put into words, thus why I shared this story.

  4. Avatar Alice Bell says:

    Heartwarming and beautiful.

  5. Steve DuBois Steve DuBois says:

    Sweet story. Unfortunate, though, it’s not just a story. I could feel how your dog must’ve been feeling. Currently, it’s our truth. Your words … less joyful this time than before … sure sums up the mood of our world. Hopefully, the curve will flatten soon. Stay Safe. Be Patient. Have Courage.

    • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

      Steve, exactly. This simple story that could easily be a children’s book, catches hold of something powerfully moving, sad, and beautiful about this time we are in. We are realizing how much we need each other. It hurts but perhaps there is some good in it too. This is when we find out what we are made of. I pray we all grow in courage. Be safe.

  6. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I have two grandkids who I haven’t been able to visit in weeks. I’m the dog, and my wife and daughter take turns holding the leash.

  7. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    Beautiful, bittersweet story, so well told. Thank you for sharing Teddy’s moment with us.

  8. Annelise, you tapped into emotions we can all relate to. Truly bittersweet.

  9. Avatar Gracious Palmer says:

    Dear Annelise: Thank you soooo much for this sweet story about a loving ? and loveable fur baby and its relationships in this new normal community in which we find ourselves.

  10. AJ AJ says:

    Awwww…what a beautifully poignant story at this juncture of our lives… thank you.

  11. Avatar Roxanne says:

    Very sweet! Thanks for that!

  12. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    I loved the puppy story, and I love that you “get” your dog. Warms my heart when folks connect with their animals. They are so precious and love us to pieces. Not a day goes by that our Havanese girl does not make us laugh from the minute she gets up in the morning. What a blessing she is to us.

  13. Avatar sandra ellison says:

    Missed this when it first came out. So happy I found it! I’m a cat person, but your article makes me wish I had a dog! Thanks for sharing it.