Happiness is a playful, warm puppy


I was talking to a sweet woman one day this past week, and she mentioned that her little Westie dog is getting old and feeble. I offered to fix her up with another, younger Westie so the older dog could help train the younger one.
She put her hand on my arm and said, “Oh, my dear, you don’t understand. I am too old for another dog.”
Tears welled up in her eyes, and suddenly I felt tears of my own. Only dog lovers would even begin to understand the sentiment involved.
For me, life would be mighty shallow and bereft of a very specific joy that only dogs can give if suddenly I had no canine friends at my side.
My husband has often joked that if he can’t find me, all he has to do is follow the dogs, because they are drawn to me like a magnet. My lap is full, and therefore my heart is full of joy.
Latest addition. The latest addition to my lap is the tiniest of beings who now carries the name Tia. Most definitely the runt, she was the only female and was given about zero chance of making it out of the litter of much bigger male West Highland White Terriers.
For days on end, I concentrated on this little one’s survival. I got up several times during the night, every night, to make sure the little runt had her turn at nursing off of mama.
After their eyes were opened at two weeks, I attempted to put the males in a little basket nearby while I helped the teeny one get up to the diner, but the mama didn’t like not having all of her babies close. It was a challenge, especially in the middle of the night, but it has proven to all be worth it.
Tia weighed in at the vet’s office at a whopping 1 pound, 2 ounces for her six-week check-up. The males in the litter were more than double her weight.
My son came home from college this past weekend and teeny Tia bounced across the floor to greet him. He proclaimed her to be the cutest little thing he’d ever seen, and before the day was out, she had attached herself to him.
Flattery will get you everywhere with a sweet little dog! I have gotten to know people who rescue Greyhounds from the racetrack, and others who volunteer at the humane shelter. I admire their work tremendously.
It would be way too hard for me because I would want to take them all home with me at the end of the day.
My best friend, Cindy, takes her dog, Chloe, to the local county home for visits. She said it is amazing to see how people light up at the sight of gentle Chloe.
Blessings. I believe we are born with certain gifts and passions, and life unfolds for us around these blessings. Somewhere in an old family photo album, a picture of my three older sisters shows them waiting for the bus on the first day of school.
Next to that picture, another black and white photo shows me in my pajamas, age 3, sitting on the couch with my adorable Pekingese, Chippi Chan, my tiny arm around her. She had been a gift to me when my dad realized I was about to be facing days alone when my next older sister headed off to school for the first time.
That great dog and I became the best of pals, and she was with me well in to my teen years. Nearly all of my childhood memories include her.
I remember going down the sliding board for the first time with her on my lap, putting her in the wagon and pulling her around the yard, playing school, the two of us greeting my sisters when they finally got off the bus at the end of the day.
She was the first, and I dread to think of my last. I have never feared old age, though I believe I suddenly have found a reason. Maybe dogs are my fountain of youth … keep ’em coming and I’ll stay young enough to keep up with them!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.