This week’s interview reminded me, again, how important us dogs can be in our humans’ lives. And I don’t mean just the sit-shake-roll over part or the playing-fetch part. What I’m talkin’ about is how the Unconditional Love we instinctively have for our humans can help them get through some seriously bad human stuff, like when they get Really Sick or when somebody they love goes to Heaven. I’m pretty sure you pooches know what I mean, right?
So, anyway, this week I met one of the cheeriest, cutest little fluffballs, Finn Pope, who has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on a pooch. Finn’s a Coton de Tulear – yeah, I KNOW, I hadn’t heard of it either. Couldn’t even pronounce it. So I Googled. It’s ca-tawn-day-too-lee-air. And one legend has it a bunch of ‘em were on a pirate ship near the Bay of Too-Lee-Air and the ship wrecked in a storm and they had to fight off hungry sharks and swim to shore, which was that island – Mad-uh-gas-car. And then they got to be the Royal Dogs of Mad-uh-gas-car and got their picture on stamps. Is that Cool Dog Biscuits or what?
Anyway, soon as Finn’s Mom opened the door, there he was, all charm and wiggles. And he wasn’t alone. Two big sorta pitbull-looking pooches also greeted us. They had shiny red coats and were real friendly, too. During the Wag-and-Sniffs, Finn said, “Welcome, Mr. Bonzo. This is my sister Xena, she’s 5, she’s the one with the red bandanna, and that’s Weddle, he’s almost 5. He’s got the blue one. They’re both rescues. And these are our human Mom and Dad, Shannon and Paul.”
We all got settled in the living room, and Finn began giving my assistant licks and kisses, then he jumped into his Mom’s lap. Dog, that was a lotta of personality in one fluffy little package. Xena and Weddle did a few soft nudges and nose bumps. Another human came in and Finn said, “This is one of my human sisters, Emma Lee. She’s Xena and Weddle’s Mom. She going to college in Gainesville, and they go, too. Emma Lee’s really athletic, ‘specially lacrosse, and she’s working at Dodgertown this summer, so they’re all staying here, and we’re having a blast.” Xena and Weddle snuggled next to her.
“How did you all get together?” I asked.
“Mom and Dad had several kids, dogs and cats, and they all lived on 10 acres on A1A. Then the kids grew up and went off to college, and the dogs and cats went to Heaven. So they decided to downsize, and they moved here. Mom says they had Empty Nest, which is a human thing where your kids leave home and you get Really Sad. Well, Mom wanted a puppy. Dad didn’t. But Mom really, really did. She read up and learned my breed makes great companions. So here I am. I was only 5 pounds when they got me, but now I’m a big boy: I’m 14 months old and I weigh 15 whole pounds! PLUS, I don’t shed. Mom grooms me so my hair doesn’t grow down to the floor. Then I’d really look like a mop, right?”
“A really cute mop!” I replied.
“Me and Dad have a Routine: He makes me breakfast, which is The Best cuz he puts a little tuna in it. He sits with me while I eat it all up, and we have Conversations. Share guy stuff, ya’ know. Later, we go to the hardware stores and auto parts stores. I’ve been to all of ‘em by now. One time, we were at Bennett’s Auto Parts, and these big, tough-looking biker guys came up to us. Then one of ‘em leaned down and started patting me and saying what a cutsy-wootsy puppy wuppy I was. I woof you not!”
“Ya just never know about humans,” I said.
Then Finn got a serious look on his little face. “Ya know, Mr. Bonzo, I sometimes wondered what my purpose in life was. I’m just a silly little pooch. I mean, half the time, humans and even other pooches think I’m a girl, for Lassie’s sake! But now, I know my Mission!”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Well, just a few weeks ago, my human brother, Matthew, suddenly went to Heaven. He was just 31 people years. He was the chef (that means he cooked delicious food) at Trattoria Dario over on the beach. Now Mom and Dad and our human sisters and Matthew’s daughter, Madison (she’s still a kid puppy, too), are the darkest kind of sad: It’s called Grieving, which means so sad it’s sometimes hard to breath, or even move, and you feel empty, and you cry, and everything feels different, like it’ll never be back to normal.”
“I’ve heard about that,” I said, wishing I could do something.
“So, Mr. Bonzo, I realized I could ackshully help my family get though it by just being me. Just showing ‘em how much I love ‘em, like I always do, with kisses and slurps and being bouncy and cuddly. And happy. It’s what I was meant to do!”
I was so moved by Finn’s story, I had totally forgotten to write. Even though he was still so young, Finn had realized something very important: That he could help his humans make it through the awfulest time in their life just by being himself – his bouncy, slurpy, loving little self. It’s a lesson all us pooches should take to heart.
It made me want to hurry back home to my Mom and show her how much I love her.
Till next time,