He comes to our house almost every morning. First I hear his white USPS car door pull up and watch him lift up the back and sort the mail. I watch for him in the tiny space under the blinds. I hear him open the latch on the heavy metal gate and let it slam shut behind him. I race to the sliding door in your study and scrape my nails down the glass. He’s here! Oh, don’t keep me from him! It’s hard to contain myself. You slide open the door. I wiggle all over and jump up like a humpback whale. I saw a movie about whales once on television. A human freed one from a net in California and afterwards, she jumped up in the air forty times. We counted, you and I. Whales breaching up in the air are like my jumping up and whirling and spinning. Whales and I have joie de vivre. I speak a little French. Sometimes you call me Olivier. That’s O-liv-ee-yay.
Tim is happy to see me every day and calls me and my sister, Calliope, by name. He tells me to sit. It’s very hard to control myself because I see he has a bagful of my favorite treats in his hand already—venison and sweet potato. I jump all over him with love. He gives me a treat even if I don’t sit. He is not a good trainer but he is a very good person. He laughs and pats the top of my head.
You tell Tim not to give me a treat until I sit, but Tim just wants to reward me. He tells you he talks about me to his children. You gave him one of my business cards. You have three different kinds of cards for me. One for the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. One for PAWS at the University of Minnesota. PAWS stands for Pet Away Worry and Stress. One for general use like for Tim. Lots of people know me. One girl at Occidental College hadn’t seen me for two years and called me by name—Oliver!
Mom asked Tim if he would put the mail in my mouth to carry into the kitchen. He doesn’t know how to do that, so he just gives me a treat and laughs while you take the mail and give it to me after I’ve swallowed my first treat. Then I get another one from you! One from Tim and one from you. I am so clever. Oh, dog, two treats for one visit from Tim.
I see people dressed like Tim in other places with the same blue uniform and brown bag. I strain at the leash to get to them, hoping they’ll give me a treat, but they all back up and try to get away from me. I don’t understand them.
Oliver’s Advice: Only give me enough newspaper my mouth can hold. Everyone in uniform should have treats like Tim. Even people not in uniform, like you.