By Rachel Greenley

February 7, 2022


It happens six, maybe seven times a day. I'm crouched. He looks at me with those liquid eyes, his face in front of mine, his wet nose quivering, exploring my breath.

This is our routine: he stands at the door and swipes it with a paw, leaving an arc of mud-water, daffodil dirt, trampled grass, bird seed, morning dew, afternoon dew, evening dew.

I wait a beat to see if my husband will get there first. But he is a woodworker and wears large yellow headphones that protect his hearing and suspend the outside world.

The dog always tries to step over the threshold before I've wiped his paws. If I let him—which on days of laze or sick or sad, I have—he'll prance across the wood floors leaving perfect paw prints. Imagine the delight of a child following these clues to arrive at the warmth and soft and love that is this dog.

I crouch. I pick up a rag that lays just beyond the door. The dog stands ready, his snout taking me in—my coffee, my eggs, my yeasty toast, my menopause, my swollen breasts, my sore knee, my ambivalence about my day job, my tendency to overeat, my preference to be alone, my guilt, my grief, my flaws, my everything. He sniffs it all in as if I'm in confession and his breath could wipe my slate clean.

He raises a paw. I thank him. We study each other. I ask for the next.


Rachel Greenley is a Seattle-based writer with work in Hobart Pulp, Brevity, and The Baltimore Review, among others. Rachel is a 2023 Bennington College Writing Seminars candidate. Connect with Rachel at 


Picture by Ivan Babydov courtesy of Pexels

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow