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BONZ: Cuddling is this bichon frise’s specialty

I’ve been told I’m going a little white around the muzzle. But my friend Tess went totally pink a few months back at that fabulous Bark in the Park party. Tess’s human, Tracy Mitchell, teaches at the adult education center. Mostly she teaches people how to do things like blood tests. But she could also teach them how to turn a white bichon pink: cherry Kool-aid, applied topically.

Tess loves getting tons of attention, and she gives a lot of love right back.

“I don’t know what makes her so cuddly,” says Tracy. “She jumps up on my bed every night and uses her nose to get under the covers so she can get right up next to me.”

Tess came to Tracy via one of her students, a dog groomer. Someone had bought her for a woman who was lonely, and since cuddling is Tess’s specialty, she thought they’d be a perfect match. They weren’t. Tess did her best, but the lady just didn’t like dogs.

So Tracy took her in. “She endeared herself to us like there’s no tomorrow,” she says.

Now Tess is part of a happiness “pay-it-forward” chain, sort of like those 400 people in the Starbucks drive-through in St. Petersburg last week who just kept paying for the people behind them, no matter what they ordered. Tracy took Tess in to make her happy; now Tess is making not just Tracy happy, but Tracy’s dad Hubert, who lives with her.

When Tracy leaves in the morning, her son Todd comes over to keep Tess and Hubert happy. Todd brings his dog Chloe who loves to play with Tess and Hubert.

Her other son, Scott, has a tiny Yorkie named Lily. Tracy carried her in her purse at her Scott’s wedding to Kate. Now they have a baby human, Audrey. Sometimes, Audrey loves Lily a little too much. That’s when Tess steps into the happiness chain again, and goes over to play with Audrey so Lily can get a break.

Recently, Tracy fostered a homeless pug who wasn’t housebroken. But Tess saved the day again. After seeing her bark to go outside, and the pug figured it out. “He learned through her to bark when he needed to go out,” says Tracy.

But even in the Mitchell household, sometimes the dogs get rubbed the wrong way. Tracy’s taking care of her daughter Megan’s beagle, Duke, while Megan’s in the Keys, and Tess and Duke are anything but cuddly. “We had to break it up a couple of times,” says Tracy.

I guess Duke is like the one lady in the Starbuck’s line who wouldn’t play along with “pay it forward.”

“I’m from out of town,” she said. Maybe Duke feels like an outsider, too. Somebody ought to buy him a nice caramel frappuccino, and see if it doesn’t catch on quick.

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