Pru sits in her new fluffy bed in the office. I have a feeling it won’t be fluffy for long. She has a new bone to distract her from chewing on her bed. Earlier in the morning Pru rides with us to take her human sister to school. There are no American eagles soaring this morning. The sky is grey and heavy with clouds. Pru sees our daughter’s friend as we hop out of the car. “Pru! Pru!,” our daughter’s friend yells as she runs towards us. Pru and her human sister run to meet their friend. Pru wags her tail, scratches are had and then we start our walk to school. Pru barks loudly at everyone. Toddlers especially. Other dogs are a menacing threat. The fur on the back of her head and body stick up. She means business, all 5lbs of her. I don’t know why Pru is barking. She sees potential danger everywhere. I wonder why. Is it something we have done? She has been fairly happy and we have been good parents. Haven’t we? Seemingly overnight she has started being defensive and barking at everyone. Maybe it’s her hormones? Is this her canine teenage phase?
All of a sudden the walk to school or the trip to the village coffee shop is filled with Pru’s trepidation and now mine. She barks loudly. I don’t want to leave her at home. We want a happy social dog but today she barked at a mum and her toddler having hot chocs at the cafe. The mom was nice. She said the toddler was more menacing to Pru. Everyone laughed. But I feel embarrassed and anxious. Pru isn’t behaving. I am a person that would prefer to blend in and not be seen. I’ve spent most my life trying to blend in with good behaviour. Going to school was exhausting. Always reading the room. Taking everyone’s temperature. Being worried my stomach might make a noise or something I couldn’t control would happen. Pru scans the cafe. The toddler is wearing the same shade of yellow as Pru. Bright yellow toddler wellies, and bright yellow dog jumper. Pru barks and the toddler giggles and points. I feel panicked. It’s like sitting in those classrooms for all those years. The feeling of being trapped takes hold. I’m an adult, I can walk out of the coffee shop whenever I want, I tell myself. I sit in the chair uncomfortable and agitated, my heart beats a little faster and its hard to concentrate on the conversation with my friend. Its hard to concentrate on anything.
The same shade of yellow. Bright yellow. ‘Look at me’ yellow. I realise that with Pru I’ll have to be seen. There will be conversations with passersby, friendly or not. Mostly friendly. I’m hugely apologetic any time she misbehaves. When you’re cute and little, barks don’t seem to have as much bite. But I feel worried. A friend has confided that she has been diagnosed as being autistic. A women who is in her mid-forties. She said her whole life finally made sense. She’s grateful but also grieves for the little girl that was lost for so long. She is now found. The toddler’s yellow wellies and Pru’s yellow jumper become the colour of my memory of our experience in the cafe. I call a puppy trainer and our doctor. It was all yellow.