Michigan’s Mom

Dear President Biden,

On Sunday we met a very sweet, very old black lab-mix named Michigan and her mom, whose name we of course didn’t get since when meeting people with dogs or small children one focuses only on those who can’t speak for themselves and end up having their names revealed whether they want them revealed or not while those of us who can speak keep our names under wrap. So dog Buddy and dog Michigan were more or less formally introduced to one another while the humans exchanged pleasantries about them and pretended it wasn’t at all odd that we didn’t introduce ourselves.

We were at Golden Gardens Park in NW Seattle and had just finished walking a lovely trail we had no idea existed an hour earlier. We’d originally planned to do our usual Discovery Park jaunt but decided to mix things up and take a chance on GGP even though all we knew was that there was an off-leash dog area and lots of stairs down from it to a strip of park at the water’s edge (this part of Seattle ends at the Salish Sea). But lo and behold there was a lovely dirt trail with ample pine needle covering so it wasn’t super muddy (which is very good for our little low rider Dachshund boy) and this trail went on and on and on. It wouldn’t be correct to call it a hike, but it was way more of a ramble than we expected and we were grateful.

When we headed out we were careful to take the fork that led away from the off-leash area since dog Buddy tends to be a very barky, sometimes lunge-y, demon when other dogs are around and we didn’t want to put any of us – to include the dogs and people within the off-leash area – through that. However, on the return trip we inadvertently took the fork that goes right by the no-go zone of the off-leash area so we were braced for barking and were in ‘hurry up’ mode when the woman, who turned out to be Michigan’s mom, asked if Buddy was a long-hair Dachshund.

Buddy was  (quietly – mercifully, surprisingly) distracted by the dogs just inside the fence and didn’t seem to be aware, at first, of either Michigan or Michigan’s mom so we chatted with her. In the course of the conversation we told her that Buddy is a wire haired Dachshund but it was understandable that she thought he was a regular longhair because he’s not a good wire specimen, he’s too curly and soft. As usual, we probably repeated the gist of Buddy’s shortcomings three or four times and finally Michigan’s mom looked at us both, going back and forth between us with gentle eye contact, and said something like “Buddy is absolutely fine as he is. His hair is absolutely fine as it is.” We agreed and thanked her and then we all said our goodbyes.

What I didn’t tell you earlier about Michigan’s mom is that she’s Black. I could see her graying, curly hair underneath her head wrap and when she said that Buddy’s hair is exactly as it should be, it felt like such a gift, such a completely undeserved, precious gift.

May we all be safe to be in whatever bodies we landed in.
May we all have the grace to stop apologizing for our bodies and absurdly, judging others’ bodies.
May we all be strong and courageous enough to say what needs saying.
May we all accept the lessons we’re fortunate to have come our way.

Tracy Simpson

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