My wife and I have a little dog who will be 13 today. What a joy she is to two old folks whose children are all out in various parts of the country pursuing their lives.
She's old enough that she has her own developed patterns of life in our home. In that sense she keeps us on our toes. She's just a little 18-pound lap dog, and she certainly enjoys sitting in our laps. She is a half-breed Poodle and Bichon. While the Bichons are all white, she apparently gets her color from her poodle mother as she is solid buff colored with a bit of white in her belly, feet and face markings. I bought her for my wife as a birthday present 13 years ago; and we both agree she is the best birthday present ever. At the time she weighed just three pounds. My wife named her Chew Choo. I'll spare you the details of what that is supposed to mean. I call her Choochie.
Choochie is not a yapper as some small dogs can be. While I've owned dogs all my life, I've never been so aware of how her nose dictates her life. One thing I've always wondered about dogs is that while they are supposed to have such a highly developed sense of smell, why do they find it so compelling to put their noses so close to some foul smelling pile to understand just what it is? When we go out for a walk she starts out putting her nose in the air as to see who or what is in the wind. Then she seldom lifts her head off the ground. She has to smell everything. Sometimes she will stop in the middle of the road on bare pavement, and sniff and study some bare spot, seemingly enchanted by the odors she detects until I in impatience pull her off. "What are you doing" I ask her, "Preparing to write a thesis for your doctorate on that patch of pavement?" When we come back to the house, if my wife is not in her customary easy chair, Choochie will run about the house at full tilt until she finds her mistress.
Her senses are unbelievable. Her most amazing feat that I cannot explain happened a few years ago. Our house is in the woods, with a driveway about 100 yards long. One cold night with all the windows shut, I had just dished up the last of the ice cream from a half gallon container. I tossed the empty container on the kitchen floor for her to enjoy. Choochie was in the kitchen with her entire face in this container eagerly getting what she could. Suddenly she jumped up, started to bark and came running into the living room, jumped up on the back of the sofa where she could look out the window into the front yard and continued to bark. I wondered what had gotten in to her; so I got up and turned on the floodlight for the front yard. There on the bird feeder was a large coon who was eating the bird food. Now even if she wasn't preoccupied with the ice cream in that container covering her head, how on earth could she have detected that coon who was a bit away from the house, making no sound we were aware of, and with all the windows closed?
I confess, she sleeps with us in our beds. If I sleep beyond a time she feels is proper she will start poking at me to let me know it is time to get up. I assume that has more to do with her natural urges than any discipline she wishes to put me through. Her untiring devotion and attachment to my wife and myself adds immensely to bring smiles and chuckles to our lives every day.
Choochie is expert at maintaining the ties that bind. To an old couple who are fast losing their sense of importance to the rest of the world, it very comforting to have even just a small puppy that depends so much on one for her safety, comfort and very survival in a life as she knows it .What a joy she is indeed.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org