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My Grandma Who Was Afraid of Dogs

I remember the first time My Grandma told me why she was afraid of dogs. She told me of the boarding school That she was sent to as a little girl In Colombia; The one she was sent to because Her Father passed away, While she played at the foot of his bed. And her widowed mother was now struggling To provide for her children. So, my grandma agreed to go, Away to el colegio To help her Mamá. She was only nine or ten When she was sent away— Away from her family, Away and her father had only died a few years before, To the school with dirt floors in the chapel, Which they knelt on at five in the morning While whispering their Hail Mary’s. And the bathroom Was across the yard And was guarded by horrible hounds With abominable barks, That practically sang of fear. Their growls kept all the girls Trembling in trepidation When they had to trek across the yard To use el baño. One night, she was desperate And ran to the bathroom. But she didn’t sprint swiftly enough. The dog chased her, Baring its wicked teeth And clamped its jaws Upon her arm. She told me all of this with a tense smile on her face, And explained that’s why she was afraid of dogs. Years later, my family got our own dog, A little Shih Tzu named YumYum— Her namesake, a character from the Mikado, But we called her Yummy. My dad told me, “Keep Yummy away from Grandma. You know she doesn’t like dogs.” I obeyed. But as years passed, Grandma warmed up to Yummy. Yummy, who was old and sweet, Who loved all, Whose collar danced when she came into a room, Whose tail metronomed to the rhythm Of her happy heart. And one day— I remember it like yesterday— Yummy hopped up on to my Grandma’s lap And my Grandma’s eyes did not grimace. She only laughed And softly stroked the blond fluffy fur of my silly ‘ol girl. It was the first dog she ever liked, Ever loved. And I’d like to think that maybe, Just maybe, Mi perrita perfecta slightly pieced together a Life that was everything But easy.

My Grandma Who Was Afraid of Dogs

I remember the first time My Grandma told me why she was afraid of dogs. She told me of the boarding school That she was sent to as a...