I should have asked for some comfort and joy.
Instead Santa brought me a new squeaky toy.
So I stole Mom’s scarf. Don’t you think I look nice?
I may do it again. Without thinking twice!
It was supposed to be my chihuahua Tinkerbelle’s costume.
A pretty tutu it was, bought second hand from the rescue group for Tink’s very first Halloween.
But Tink was terrified and absolutely refused to wear it.
Sometime on Halloween night my terrier Tucker found that tutu on the dining room table, and thinking it was some kind of a tasty treat pulled it right down on the rug.
Once I turned on the lights in the morning, I jumped.
I saw Tuck had learned a very spooky new trick.
Somehow he’d managed to get the tutu up on his head just like a crown.
Now Tuck’s a senior and has never been fond of Halloween. Typically he’d hide under the couch shaking his fears away until the last of the door knocking ghosts and goblins were gone.
But I guess you can always change, no matter if you’re young or old.
And looking at Tuck’s face I believe that my old boy is mighty proud of himself, just as he should be.
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Clarence, a kindly guardian angel shared those words in the classic 1946 movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.”
And I’ve often found the words ring even more true when talking about our dogs.
As my fourteen year old lame corgi Maddie continued to struggle earlier this summer with various health issues, I was already feeling an all too familiar void coming my way.
While lamenting with a fellow corgi owner strolling by with his own corgi pup, I was advised to adopt another dog before Maddie passed on “to help ease the pain.”
He was speaking from his own experience.
“Thanks for the suggestion,” I said dismissing the advice right after our conversation.
After all, I already had a couple of little four legged friends back at home.
Still I knew the hole in my heart was growing as Maddie’s days continued to shrink.
I guess it was no surprise that I found myself ‘just stopping by’ a small shelter one afternoon while driving out in the country.
I’d been visiting a nearby cemetery where my parents and brother were buried, and was feeling a little blue.
As I first entered the shelter, I spotted a white five pound dog dancing with joy as he first saw me.
The silver wispy curls shining like a halo on his head reminded me of Clarence.
And this little guy was clearly a senior as well.
Estimated to be about ten years old, the dog was a dirty, matted mess when he’d first arrived. He had so much hair on his body that the shelter couldn’t safely guess at the breed buried below it.
This former stray, named ‘Dirty Harry’ by the loving staff, was cleaned up and had since been shaved down.
A half hour after my arrival a smiling Harry and smiling me walked together out of the shelter after completing adoption paperwork.
I’d chosen to leave the dirty part of his name far behind.
Back home Harry quickly got to work befriending Maddie as she rested on her plaid dog bed in the kitchen.
Harry continued to share his sweet smiles and dancing acumen daily in spontaneous recitals of joy right next to the stove.
Maddie appeared to approve, watching every move.
She once loved to dance herself on those short hind legs years prior to her lameness.
Harry quickly fell in love with his big sister, joining Maddie in her stroller on our trips to the farmer’s market and for outdoor band concerts down by the lake.
And also on that comfy dog bed.
Maddie was soon smiling brighter again herself.
Yet just two months and a day after Harry’s adoption, the music suddenly stopped.
Harry had left us while sleeping peacefully on my shoulder, just like he did every night.
My own vet suspected Harry was actually older than ten and detected a heart murmur, though it was still unclear why Harry had died that evening.
But one warm day a week later it became clear to me.
Earlier in the morning Maddie had also passed on.
I choose to believe Harry, her guide and protector, had flown back to get her.
He was an angel after all.
Maddie’s guardian and guide granted her wings to finally move on to a more beautiful place where she could kick up her heels and run free once more.
My heart is full again, just at the thought.
My terrier Tucker is tenacious in getting what he wants.
He’s also territorial.
Take this morning for example.
The canine clan and I were enjoying the cool morning breeze on the porch when I went into the kitchen to grab a refill of coffee.
I first stopped to move a few magnets on the refrigerator to accommodate my latest art acquisition.
It’s a cheery brightly colored portrait of a brown pup created by a little six year old friend of mine.
I’d left it on my writing desk out on the porch.
When I returned there with my coffee, I saw Tuck had grabbed my blanket and the new picture was up on the loveseat next to him.
Maybe the breeze had carried the art over in his direction.
Though my eleven year senior boy is still quite an athlete and counter surfs with the best of then.
When I tried to take away the picture, Tuck let our a gentle, guttural growl.
“All right, you can keep it for now but don’t let it get dog eared,” I told him. “And I get the blanket.”
I took his snoring as an acceptance of my compromise.
And soon this senior was softly snoring away as well.