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November 29, 2005

Post-Black Friday Cheers

Roy Meachum

Defying odds, good sense and Pushkin staring with his brown eyes, wanting to go for a walk, I ventured out Black Friday morning. With discount coupons firmly in hand, I advanced on Fredericktown Mall.

Coming off Key Parkway onto Waverly Drive, remembering other holiday shopping, I assumed I would wind up parking several football lengths away from Boscov's. Didn't happen.

Similarly, I was delightfully surprised to find Bed, Bath and Beyond and Lowe's equally accessible. The employees at all locations were pleasant and more than willing to help, more so than usual, I thought.

When Pushkin indulged in his afternoon promenade later, the English pointer could not simply walk into his favorite stores; he ducked and deferred to reach the hands that feed him on his routine.

En Masse was different. Flowers are normally heavy items right up until Thanksgiving eve; then they go into partial-hibernation. That worked out to my four-legged buddy's decided advantage.

At the florist's, Pushkin received the latest lovely Christmas collar from Trish's lovely hands. His visits seem particularly to breed joy with her. She has been known to verbally beat back anyone who means to feed the pointer first. That's her job when she's around.

Saturday I was able to tell her the bells, cedar and ornaments on the collar made a tremendous hit. Indeed there appeared an increased urge to offer biscuits more and more. It was my role to say no with thanks.

Happily for all concerned, they allowed as how Black Friday had been "not bad." Borrowing a phrase from every merchant's lexicon: The street abounded with good will and cheer, from the afternoon well into the night.

What makes this holiday season different for Pushkin is his diet.

Acknowledging he might have a weight problem, I sought to break the habit of sharing leftovers. Well, with some exceptions. When my daughter wanted to feed scraps from her Thanksgiving dinner, I was simply not in a position to raise a protesting hand.

Otherwise, however, we have stuck to the dietary dog food delivered by a friend. So, that's not a friend? Karen did more than haul the slimming stuff to my house; she paid for it, as well.

In other words, I had no choice but to go through the painful exercise of turning down offerings from my best-friend's well-wishers.

Pushkin survives. More: he thrives. Of course, there was the matter of the missing cheese.

Rushing out one night for my FCC Russian class, I neglected to put away a half-pound of Dubliner. Upon my return I found the cheese wrapping on the library's Turkish rug. I didn't haul out a rolled-up newspaper. I never have. Not with the pointer.

In our seven years together, I've never lifted a hand to Pushkin; never had to. He tries hard to do right when wrong pops up; I cut him some slack. He responds by rarely repeating the infraction.

Like all well-loved dogs, I suspect, our chats carry a cheery tone from me; he sometimes goes through gyrations meant to start a dialogue, hampered principally by his inability to enunciate.

But he tries. Family and friends have found the exercise very amusing: he bares his teeth by flapping his gums, trying very hard to speak, most frequently when he doesn't like things I ask him to do. This is no canine smile, as those observers can attest.

The pointer goes through the same routine when he decides it's time for his walk. If told to lie down, he sulks. But perks up when I stand up and talk about going. Charging to the front door, he rises on his hind legs and reaching for the front door goes into a sort of pirouette, which I normally find delightful.

In the event, neatly stacked in one corner of the front parlor is a surprising number of gifts, all unwrapped, of course. Tokens of how Pushkin and I survived another Black Friday.

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