Four legged friends and fairy dust

I’d stopped early at the animal shelter one day last fall just as the doors opened.

My beloved 14 year corgi Maddie had passed away just a month before.

I had viewed a couple of dogs on the shelter’s website that I just wanted to meet.

At least that’s what I told myself anyway.

But I knew deep inside that if one of the canines tugged enough at my heart strings, that dog could be going home with me.

My rational side had reasoned that at some point I might take on another small senior dog. Or perhaps one with special needs.

The first pup I wanted to met that September day came with a sweet little expression. She was a little toy poodle, about eight years old.

She was also blind.

And beautiful.

I was the first shelter visitor to approach the service desk. I told the staffer that I wanted to meet this very special girl.

I heard a soft sigh.

It was coming from someone behind me.

I turned to see a blonde 30 something woman in glasses that were fogging up.

She seemed to be crying.

The woman also wanted to meet the same little white poodle.

Her tears were gentle, but they unnerved me some.

The shelter staffer told the woman behind me since I’d arrived right before her, I would be meeting the poodle first and have the first chance at the little dog’s adoption.

The woman nodded.

She fully understood, but her eyes were still moist.

I had to do something.

I turned back to the staffer at the desk and said, “I would really like it if the woman behind me gets the chance to meet the poodle first. Then if she doesn’t take her home, I still want to meet her.”

The staffer agreed and the woman smiled.

I just didn’t want to get in the way of the perfect love match.

Helping love matches was one of my favorite duties when I used to foster a few years back.

I then moved on down the hall to find the other little dog I wanted to meet, but first stopped at the cage of one pup I hadn’t noticed on the site.

There was something about the dog that caught my eye.

The fellow was actually fairly big and tall. Maybe 30-40 pounds. “Possibly part pug mixed with who knows what?” I muttered.

This ten year old was lacking classic good looks, but there was something mighty handsome about his smile.

And his personality.

We hung out for a while together in a small visiting room.

He’d been in the shelter for a while.

But I couldn’t understand why.

He was kind, loving, smart, and fully trained.

The boy was also very flexible.

If you wanted him to be a lap dog, he was more than willing.

And when you wanted him to play ball, he was like an All-Star.

I knew I was starting to fall in love with him, so I thought I better move on.

I knew a larger dog wasn’t the best choice for my current living situation.

But I immediately stopped a volunteer nearby and shared the amazing things I had learned about this amazing pug mix.

She told me she would update his posting with my discoveries.

I didn’t have to go far to find the other dog I had planned to meet that day.

She turned out to be a neighbor of the pug mix.

This five pound black chihuahua pup was nine months old and a bit overwhelmed by the bigger dogs around her. Her name was Tinkerbell.

She’d moved from California where there’s still an overpopulation of chihuahuas in shelters. As many as 50 percent of the shelter dogs there are chis, according to some estimates.

Tinkerbell trotted over to the cage door to greet me and lick my hand.

We went to a visiting room also to play where she immediately climbed right up on my lap and gave me a kiss.

And then another.

Although Tinkerbell was far younger than I was looking for, I knew we’d made a love match.

I put her on an overnight hold so I could prepare my home for her arrival.

As I walked back to the main desk to complete the hold paperwork, I saw the blonde woman again as well as the little blind poodle as they prepared to leave the shelter together.

I was in tears this time as I congratulated her on her adoption.

I was so happy for them both.

The woman was smiling and even the poodle looked to be smiling.

They were another perfect love match, I thought.

That night I was excited as I found the perfect cozy bed for Tinkerbell, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about the pug mix with the handsome smile who’d been in the shelter too long.

Could I give this deserving dog a home too? I wondered.

But I knew that I couldn’t.

It turns out I needn’t have worried.

When I went back to the shelter the next morning to pick up Tinkerbell, I noticed the pug mix was gone.

Someone had read my updated comments about him and adopted him right after I’d left.

I smiled at the thought of yet another love match made that day.

Looking at the sun as Tinkerbell and I walked towards the door, I thought I saw a hint of fairy dust as turned to wave good bye.

After all, magic really does happen sometimes.

Especially in animal shelters.

A little heartbeat


“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.” – Edith Wharton

A friend asked me when I adopted Rex back in December why this little guy is so special to me.

I think I may have found my answer in the quote above while reading on my porch love seat this morning.

Living with intention has never been one of my strengths, though I’m working on it.

However for Rex, it surely is.

The day I first met Rex I’d only stopped by the shelter to pick up a few pet supplies.

Rex however had other ideas and trotted that 6 pound body over to me to offer his assistance.

He seemed to sense I needed to get my empty heart beating again after some losses in my life.

He seemed to know I needed a younger, active pup to get me exercising for my health.

And Rex has now learned that sometimes in the early morning hours, all I need is to hear is that little heartbeat at my feet.

He’s one very smart boy.

And I’m one very lucky girl.


Magical muses

Life is a series of lessons. And some of my best have been taught by my dogs.

Most recently my handsome man Rex was busy tutoring me while I was teaching him the basic skills of sit, stay, and down.

Just a few months before, Rex had been a painfully shy boy who would cower in the corner of of his cage in fear.

Not a great profile when you’re trying to get adopted.

Still by the time we first met, he’d had enough special coaching to convince me I didn’t need that sleepy southern gentleman snoring away in the next cage in my life.

Instead I needed this transposed spicy young spitfire before me who made great eye contact, kissed my hand, and jumped into my lap.

Watching my once shy guy play tag today with a three year old, while snuggling with the boy’s father, and adorning his mother with loving pecks on the cheek was magical.

And that’s the same magic this young pup’s been creating for me.

It seems I’ve finally learned I’m never too old to change.

Or even to enjoy a little fairy dust in my own life.

“Dogs are the magicians of the universe,” once wrote Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Oh what smart and lucky creatures they are.

And how blessed are we to have them as part of our lives.

Those eyes say it all

I believe my senior girl Maddie’s a lot smarter than I am.

She’s 13 now, so she’s had plenty of years to work on that wisdom.

This morning I bent down to slowly to pick her up and carry her outside. Maddie’s lame now in her back legs.

I found my back ached more than usual from the lifting, as did my shoulder from shoveling heavy snow a few weeks back.

I ‘d also awakened with a cold and fever that seemed to sail in on the breeze overnight.

After gently setting Maddie down on the grass, I went back inside. I soon noticed her watching me through the kitchen windows as I made my coffee, swept the floor, and washed up the breakfast dishes.

She was smiling and never took those big brown eyes off me.

It seemed Maddie was beckoning me to come back outside.

I finally did.

And I found a day once gray had turned a beautiful blue.

It was full of sunshine and twenty five degrees warmer than normal.

And my old girl didn’t want me to miss it.

Maddie’s never let a little discomfort get in her way.

After spending the first four years of her life living on a porch with a questionable breeder in frigid northern Minnesota, she’s come to appreciate simple gifts.

And she still does today.

We spent much of the afternoon relaxing outside. She on her dog bed, and me in a rocking chair until she had another message she was determined to share.

It was spelled D-I-N-N-E-R.

And once again, her eyes said if all.

Somehow they always do.

Hey, who you calling funny looking?

My daughter and her family had stopped by to see me and my little canine crew.

Afterwards I thanked her for helping capture some pics of my new squirming handsome man, Rex.

“He sure is a cute little guy,” she texted me back.

“Hey, I thought you said he was funny looking!” I replied.

Rex, a mystery mix, doesn’t quite look like the rest of the dogs on the block with his long spindly legs.

My daughter acknowledged her prior comment, but added “oh…but he’s got good character!”

I smiled.

There’s nothing quite like a handsome man with “good character” in my book.

Sounds to me like the beginning of a perfect love story.

Laughter: The best medicine

I still wonder what I’m doing with a year old pup.

Rex came home with me from the shelter right before Christmas.

I often worry if this handsome man will outlive me.

And then I worry if for some reason he won’t.

A clever one, Rex’s learned to recognize my approaching furrowed brow anytime anxiety prepares for landing.

He then takes over as co-pilot.

Rex suddenly will start to snort and laugh at himself.

And he won’t quit the game until I do the same.

I know now why I chose my special pup.

This handsome boy’s keeping this aging girl young.

And he’s doing the same in the process.

That’s exactly what my doctor ordered.

And oh, what a sweet prescription he is!

Just Believe

I often wonder what my dogs are thinking.

Particularly with my newest dog Rex who joined us last month.

Yesterday Rex jumped up on the bed right next to my purchases from the second hand store, all neatly bundled in a recycled bag.

“Hey, Rex. Did you ever believe you’d move up north and have a second chance with a family?”

Rex quickly cocked his head to the left, deep in thought.

“And do you believe you’ll be an awesome therapy dog?”

Rex cocked his head to the right, still thinking.

“And can you believe, Rex, at some point your brother Tucker will finally stop teasing you?”

Rex looked concerned for a moment, then I believe I saw him nod.

“Finally Rex, what made you believe your second hand mom would ever let you sleep on the bed?”

With that question, guilt settled in.

And Rex’s imagination ran out.

My handsome man then jumped off the bed and trotted down to his kennel to sleep and dream up more magic.