What happened to the Vietnam War Dogs and Veronica the Hedgehog

With a sleeping puppy at my feet, the end of a candle burning, and the sweet satisfaction of checking each box on my to do list today, I sit here with deep contentment for the moment.

Recently, my emotions have been on a ride that I am not always sure I am behind the wheel on, instead glitched programming drives me off the road despite my best attempt to hold the wheel steady. Anxiety takes over my nights where I am raddled by cold shivers, despite being cocooned in blankets. Loneliness floods over me into melancholy nights, notwithstanding the company I keep or that I embrace being alone. This limbo period of my life wavers my sense of security, comparison threatens my joy.

Today though, today I know contentment. I put structure into my life by self- generating a weeks worth of time blocked events. It being Monday, I went to work on tackling the to-do list and being accountable to what I signed myself up for. Nothing I did today was all that remarkable, but I will remark on it nonetheless.

Starting off the morning, I watched the sunrise while walking the pup dog, Blue, towards the Christmas light lit downtown. She seems to have a perpetually growing fear of cars, so I continue to expose her to morning rush hour while I whisper soothing words into her ear and feed her treats as a distraction from the two-ton metal horses barreling down the road. It was on this walk that Blue’s instinctual drive overcame her at least nine times in the presence of a bunny. Old Town brought an elixir of new smells for young pups nose, the grease of a fallen pizza slice and the tacky bubble gum glued to the side walk. Running out of treats to dissuade her from the distractions, I dragged her down the road.

Arriving for my first official solo shift at the Timberline Recycling Center, I donned my one size two small, yellow, reflective safety vest and took a gander into each of the bins full of recycle. Shifting the glass bottles around with a long rake, my ears danced with the sounds of falling glass. Peering into the plastic and aluminum bins, I grimaced at the insides as it was full of clam shell plastics, paint cans, and paper. As cars came and went, I offered my assistance and my helping hand was regularly declined. Between sweeping up glass and answering the oddball question of how to recycle glue, an old man pulled up with a pick-up bed full of beer bottles and cardboard. Accepting my assistance, I learned this man does this monthly, unloading the remnants of cheap beer from the VFW. As I thanked him for his service to the country, he paused with cardboard in hand and told me, “I got lucky. I was in combat in Vietnam but I trained the dogs.” After putting the cardboard in bin 8, he paused again and recalled his past, “I hated it though. After the war ended, they didn’t have use for the dogs and didn’t want to bring them home, so they shot them. One hundred beautiful, trained dogs. Dead.”

Today marked another first as well, my first Shipt shopping orders. After the panic of trying to find the Ore-Ida pre-shredded hash browns regardless of looking in the potato freezer section three separate times, I finally spotted them midst the rest of the frozen potato varieties and the shopping was smooth sailing from there. On my last order of the day, I finished up early and popped into the PetSmart before dropping off the 8 items to Britni. Knowing the pups shredded their last stuffed toy, I purchased a discount holiday giraffe with a squeaker toy. While checking out, I asked the tall, lanky mid-20s cashier if he had a dog. He said no. I then asked, “Do you have any pets?” To my complete surprise, he answered, “Ya, I have a hedgehog named Veronica.” Amazing.

Today though, today I know contentment.

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