My Shepherd's Shivs.

I’ve never seen a dog bite her nails before. Yet here you are, paw in snout, chomping away, filing your points.

Are you nervous? Are you waiting to hear back from a college or a job interview or the boy who promised to call? Do you have a hang nail on your fur? Or is it that you still think you need to protect yourself against the big bad world and the big bad life you used to know?

You’re like a little convict, home-making your weapons: ten tiny shivs. To stab with? To dig out with? It gives me lastima that this old habit is still with you. Because when I met you that day at the shelter, a thousand worries buried in your brow, when I chose you, or when you chose me really, there had been so many reasons to fight.

Oh, I see. You’re sharpening your tools to protect us with. You’re planning to defend your good fortune. Because every night when I tuck you in and whisper, “You matter. You are safe,” you look back at me as if to say, “Are you sure? I’ve never been safe before.”

Yes, I’m sure. I’m sure! I’ll pinky promise with that blade of yours. No need for arms here, sweet girl. Put down your paw-knives, they are scratching up my heart. I want you to walk free, dull and mild. I want you to let me keep guard. I want you to play, to enjoy, and finally, to let go. 

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p.s. The Shawshank Shepherd.