Not every day is a Courthouse Day. Some days, seeing-eye-dog Justice stays curled up under the desk, situated peacefully between the printer/scanner and the shredder. These wonders of technology can be humming and screaming away at full power, yet Justice slumbers on in doggie dreamland, occasionally kicking his legs as he romps through the meadows of Nod. Dreams are not always pleasant, though. Sometimes he can get a little vocal, whining or growling, probably remembering client meetings like the one where he spent half an hour huddled under a chair in the furthest corner of the probation officer’s small office as the obese man in the wheelchair screamed in pain for what seemed like forever. He was having a seizure, his nurse calmly informed us. The color completely drained from the man’s face as the “seizure” wore on; later that afternoon as we walked back from lunch, we met the nurse again on the street beside an ambulance. “Now the medics think he’s having a heart attack,” she confided calmly. Nice that someone can stay calm throughout these kinds of life-and-death matters. Robert and Justice and I were wound up tighter than a kettle drum by this time. A potential client in an ambulance having a heart attack is really never a good thing. Justice gave a little shiver and sniffed an ambulance tire. We gave the nurse our condolences for her employer and hurried back to the office to pick up a file.
Justice didn’t get to take his harness off or even play a 10-second game of tug-o-war before we were on our way back to the courthouse for an afternoon of navigation through the legal system. This was just too much! A working dog should be afforded a decent nap after such a stressful morning!
It’s only about half a block’s walk across Main Plaza, the common area which joins an historical cathedral, the Riverwalk, various restaurants and the county courthouse in a large square in the middle of the bustling downtown area. So many tourists were out on this particular afternoon! So many smells, coming from all the air currents of the four winds! Every day, we take the same route: across the one-way street, through Main Plaza’s east end nearest the river, through the maze of outdoor tables and chairs and small barricades that prevent traffic, over rough and uneven paving stones, veering west to wait for our crossing light at the next street across from the courthouse. This day was no different…until…
It took me a minute to realize that I was talking to myself. There was no attorney, no seeing-eye-dog, only a southerly breeze gently blowing grit through the grinding noise of buses, cars and construction vehicles as I approached what was to be our crossing point. I glanced around nervously as the double-length Primo bus whizzed past, just a few inches from the crosswalk. Then I spotted them. Justice, his ears perked higher than I had ever seen them and his tail wagging at a 75-degree angle behind him, straining at his harness, nostrils flaring. His master cheerfully walked on, the subtle change in the direction and intent of his guide dog friend barely noticeable. Directly across the street, the culprits innocently waved their feathery tails and pulled their tourist owner closer to the corner crossing. There, in a blinding ray of loveliness, were two of the most beautiful, perfectly proportioned matching blond Golden Retrievers that were ever beheld on a sunny day. A cement mixer rattled past, just in front of the twins. The owner winced at the strong fumes blowing by. Mercifully, the light changed, the traffic came to a halt, and the tourists made their crossing as Justice whined a desperate greeting. I reached them all just in time to explain why Justice had decided to take the day off and that we needed to get back on the straight and narrow before we became the leavings of a Primo bus.
It’s not every day that we get to witness a screaming fit, a heart attack, more tourists and convention traffic whereupon angels fear to tread, or blond twins waving at us from a seemingly unattainable distance. One never knows what goes on in those doggie dreams, but for Justice, every naptime is an adventure.