My Sunday Visitor

Every other Sunday afternoon I have a visitor named Nelson appear at my door about 3 pm. When I go to the door, his body language communicates sheer joy. (Can you see his tail wagging?) As soon as he steps inside, I give him a treat, for I want him to know that good things happen in his world.

IMG_20160103_144507593 (2)

Nelson stays with me while his human, John, and my daughter, Polly, and some other of their friends drive to Almost Home, the Humane Society of Nelson County, and walk the dogs that still wait for their forever homes.

It’s my and Nelson’s special time. After the treat, we engage in several minutes of talking, playing, scratching, and general enjoyment of each other’s company. If I return to the computer to continue writing, Nelson comes to lay down by my feet, where I can easily reach to scratch him. Sometimes during the early part of our visit he gets up and walks to the sliding glass door, looking out to see if John has returned. He may bark, or he may whine a little, yet he is learning to trust his human will return.

When I take a break and ask if he’d like to go for a walk, he jumps up and rushes to the door, his tail wagging faster than a metronome set for presto (very fast).

“Nelson, sit,” I sometimes say gently, as I did today, so I can hook the leash to his clay colored collar, which blends so beautifully with his gorgeous brindle coloring. I open the door and Nelson pulls me in the direction he wants to go: sometimes we walk into the woods, sometimes by the stream, but, mostly, around the entire property. We never go on the road, though, because a moment on a road a year ago changed his life forever.

When we come back inside half an hour later, he often settles by me on the couch where he watches out the front deck door for John’s car to return. I read my book with my arm around him. We are content.

I often think of the first time I met Nelson in December 2014. He was a small puppy who let me hold him close just like I used to hold my babies. He’d been found injured on the side of a road by a young woman who took him to our Animal Control facility; they took him immediately to a veterinarian. Dr. Ligon estimated he’d been born last Christmas and had been living on his own for an unknown amount of time. He’d been hit by a car and she needed to amputate his right rear leg. Following his surgery, the shelter called my daughter, Polly, who fosters dogs for them, to explain the situation and ask if she’d care for him until they could find a good home. Polly agreed, drove to the vet’s office, and brought the sad little puppy home.

Nelson was so afraid of everyone in those early days. Yet, as time slowly brought physical and emotional healing for him, he became more responsive to the abundant affection and attention he received from Polly, her friends, and family. A month later, John decided to adopt Nelson, thus transforming Nelson’s horrific beginning in life into what every animal needs and deserves: a home that provides safety, security, and a loving environment.

Happy birthday, a little belated, precious Nelson!


(Nelson, being a puppy, chewing up John’s invitation to a relative’s wedding.)




About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I found so many opportunities to grow: 10 year facilitator for an online writing circle of women writers across the country; thirteen year editor of the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal; a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site; program chair for two Stories from the Heart national conferences in Austin, T. Presently I'm teaching Women's Life-Writing and Older Women's Legacy workshops in my part of the world in Central Virginia and facilitating the ongoing Circle of Memories Writing Circle (formerly an OWL workshop that continued on) at the Crozet Public Library. I am blessed with three wonderful children, a son and two daughters; a small, huge-hearted family; dear friends; my beagle Addie and cat Button. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. All these years later, I'm scheduled to publish my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life, in 2018.
This entry was posted in Animal friends, Gifts, Gratitude, Health, Kindness, Mystery. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My Sunday Visitor

  1. goldenjanet says:

    I love Nelson already. He reminds me of my granddogs. I have 4. Sadly, my apartment complex doesn’t allow dogs so I visit them often at my children’s homes because our time together is delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s