"She likes you, mom!" said Dana, either sincere or clever. Olive and I had our first physical contact, she exuberantly licking my shins, me patting her once on the head then moving away. This was Dana's gig, not mine. I'd said hello, now Dana was on duty.
When I woke at six I realized Dana's "I'm watching Olive" really meant that I was the one watching Olive. Olive hadn't been out since the night before. Dana wouldn't be up until after noon. I realized with mild horror that a fair amount of the upcoming canine care would fall to me.
I called Olive's name. When the furry ball bounded out of Dana's room and down the hallway, I felt a little flutter. She didn't know me, but she nuzzled my legs and looked up with trust and anticipation that warmed me. Hmmm.
"Olive," I said, bringing her near the pad and stroking her back and head, "You're a good, good girl." In a strange house, with strange people who didn't get her out in time for her day's first constitutional, Olive had kept her business on a small plastic square. And, she hadn't barked since setting paw in our home. I was officially smitten.
I saved the plastic bags I bought my produce in and became skilled at wearing them as gloves then turning them inside out after I'd retrieved Olive's neat little messes. I left the door between our kitchen and deck open all day. That way Olive could be outside whenever she wished and hang with me while I read my newspapers at the umbrella table, forgiving the flies that found their way into my house and bounced off walls. I spread a blanket on the deck, and Olive spent hours lying on it, lifting her head frequently to give me a happy gaze and contented smile.
On a shopping trip to buy Dana back-to-campus items, I threw dog treats and chew toys into my cart. I perused my grocery store's pet aisle, comparing food labels to ensure Olive was getting the good stuff. I stopped wincing whenever Olive slurped my limbs and face, which was often. And, I, who heretofore would run for hand sanitizer anytime politeness dictated I pat someone's dog, developed a soothing chin-chuck that made Olive close her eyes and grin. I even considered giving Olive a bath. I didn't, but I thought seriously about it.