Sunday, April 20, 2014

Smile Because She Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

- Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

It seems just yesterday she came to us, quiet, silky, trusting, needing just a finger to rest her head upon.  Unwavering trust.  Unconditional love.  There in the morning yearning to go with us.  There in the evening, excited to greet us at the end of our day.  She was there before the iPhone and stayed true to us after.  She was the only dog my kids have ever known.

Dogs are a wonderful addition to a young family.  Ours taught us the meaning of devotion.  She taught our young kids the meaning of love.  She knew what we were thinking before we said a word.  When sad, she'd offer her head upon our lap; when happy, she'd show her unbounded joy by quivering her adorable stunted tail at a rate that none of us could fathom.  She would defend us against cement lawn ornaments that startled her, and threaten cats and squirrels fearlessly, as if we shouldn't put up with their misbehavior.

Her black tender nose saved the day more than once.  Perhaps her greatest moment was the day the family hedgehog was lost in the back yard during a brief moment of inattention.  The anxiety and family search party, despite their best efforts could not find the little creature.  But there, wagging happily, was a little dog pointing at a spot in the ground cover.  Beneath her, a hedgehog.  And with that, tears of joy and another family crisis averted.

Her love of tennis balls, like life itself, evolved over the years.  At first she'd chase them darting across the lawn in a burst of enthusiasm.  Who knew such a simple toy could engender such joy?  Then, as the years went by and her cataracts took her sight from her, she'd find their scent buried deep amongst thick bushes or hostas, wagging victoriously as she spirited them back home like treasures to store in our living room.  Once there, she'd lie on the floor with the ball between her legs, then shove the ball forward with her nose as if to say, 'Come play!"  We roll it back between her legs, and she'd shove the ball back to us over and over again in a game of blind dog catch.

Slowly, gradually, her hearing left her too, but her trusty nose would allow her to find her way, tail wagging all along.  We'd come home, the head would raise, the tail would wag, and our presence would be acknowledged as she had so many times before - quietly, graciously, and with a tender heart.

Now we are gathered for Easter, seeing her breathing quicken, even at rest.  We have to lift her to her favorite spot on our couch on occasion.  She's not as hungry at mealtimes now.  We know our time with her is short, but our lessons from her will last a lifetime.

And we can be happy.  Really happy.

That she happened to our grateful family.

Happy Easter.


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