Walking Velma
Guideposts|June/July 2021
It started out as a favor. It became a burden. How could I learn to say no?
LINDA NEUKRUG

Look at the little dog!” a girl squealed from across the street. “She’s got rain boots!”I smiled and waved. Yes, Velma had her own rain boots, her own raincoat, both of which matched the leash I was holding and the bow in her hair. I would never have put clothes on any animal I owned, but Velma wasn’t my dog. I’d just offered to walk her this morning when my neighbor’s fibromyalgia flared up.

“She’s adorable!” the little girl’s mother called to me.

Velma was adorable. A real sweetie. A shih tzu mix who weighed no more than five pounds, she looked like a tiny mop bustling down the street. When Arlene had asked me to walk Velma, I’d been happy to volunteer. I was less pleased when Arlene made me spend 20 minutes putting on Velma’s raincoat and four tiny rain boots. That’s what fur is for, I’d thought, thinking of my low-maintenance cats sleeping in my apartment.

Once outside, I’d expected to walk Velma around the block quickly. But with all the people stopping me every few minutes to make a fuss over the little dog and her outfit, it was taking me forever. It was a relief to get her back home. I had done my good deed and could finally go off to work before I was late.

“Thank you so much,” Arlene said at the door. I turned to go. “So I’ll see you again at noon.”

“Wait, what?”

“That’s when Velma gets her next walk,” Arlene said, as if I’d somehow agreed to a whole daily schedule.

“I’m sorry, Arlene,” I said, “I have to be at work.”

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