Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep it tight,
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
— “Dancing in the Moonlight,”
by King Harvest
The drive down to San Jose to meet Grandma Kickie for the first time was a breeze; the car was still the place Skylar felt most comfortable. We stopped at a dog park a few miles away because I thought it was a good idea to work off some of that puppy energy. We headed into the big dog side first, but the dogs there were too rough and Skylar wound up jumping on my legs like a Chihuahua, wanting me to pick her up. At 23 pounds, she was well under the weight limit for the small dog side so we headed over there. At last, Skylar calmed down and began venturing out ever so slightly, meeting and greeting the little ones, who all wanted to sniff her butt. She reluctantly obliged. Within minutes, she was having a blast being chased by a herd of Corgis, dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and cocker spaniels. One of those cocker spaniels had a bit of an attitude problem and went after Sky, growling and snapping at her face, but as always, Sky was unfazed. “I’m so sorry,” the spaniel’s embarrassed owner said. “I have a big dog in a little dog’s body.” We both laughed as Sky deflected the advances of her grumpy playmate by rolling on her back in a show of submission. “That’s OK,” I said, “I have a little dog in a big dog’s body.”
After a quick bath at the Pet Food Express on Blossom Hill Road, we rolled up to Grandma Kickie’s and rang the bell. “Oh my goodness,” Kickie said as Skylar shyly moved toward her, head down and tail wagging ever so slightly. “She’s adorable.” We sat in the den for a bit and Sky went to the sofa where Kickie was sitting and rested her chin on the edge. “You have such a cute little blockhead,” Kickie said in that slightly high-pitched puppy-talk tone. “Are you Grandma’s little blockhead?” Skylar wagged her tail and pushed her little blockhead under Kickie’s hand.
Exhausted from all the excitement, Sky was a perfect little lady that first night, but by morning she was well rested and raring to go, so we headed to the elementary school and park near Kickie’s house. It was a Saturday and the school was eerily empty and still. I unhooked Sky’s leash thinking she’d take off running and exploring, but instead she clung to my side and started with the Chihuahua leg jumping thing again. “I’m not picking you up, Skylar,” I told her firmly. I began to run across the playground to start a game of chase, but Sky thought I was trying to run away from her and frantically tried to catch up. A few large leaves tossed about in the autumn wind making a crinkly sound as they whipped past us. Again Sky jumped at my legs. “They’re leaves,” I said, picking one up and showing it to her as she backed away in fear. “It’s not a snake, Sky, it’s a leaf.”
Back at Kickie’s house, Sky was beginning to feel more secure, even venturing into the backyard by herself for a few minutes at a time. That evening, she went to the sliding glass door, so I let her out. She confidently disappeared around the corner into the darkness. Caught up in cooking dinner, I suddenly realized she’d been gone a long time, so I made my way through the living room and looked out the window, wondering what she might have gotten into. There on the lawn, lit only by the moonlight, I saw Skylar twirling — using her weight to propel her like an ice skater, counter-clockwise, around and around, from one end of the lawn to the other and back again, where she would stop, slightly dizzy, and take the “downward dog” position to rest for a moment. Then she would let out a gleeful half bark, half grunt and start twirling again — counter-clockwise, around and around, picking up speed as she went from one end of the lawn to the other and back again. I watched her for quite a while without her knowing, just Skylar dancing in the moonlight, by herself. It was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen, but also such an amazing display of pure, innocent joy. I finally tapped on the window and she sat down on one hip, that “Eighth Wonder of the World” tongue flopped to one side, a huge pittie smile on her square little face. And in that moment, I felt my love for Sky grow a bit stronger, and the aching hole in my heart left by Jazzy’s loss shrink just a little.