In 2000, I spotted a small gray dog on the TV news segment designed to match potential owners with pets from the local Humane Society. She looked right into the camera and right into my heart. I raced down to Mike’s office yelling, “Get in the car. We’re going to get a dog.”
We’d been three months without a canine companion at that point, and he was at least half as ready as I was. In a few minutes we were in the car and within an hour I was holding Belle. Her owner had died and the family didn’t want her.
Too bad for them! They missed out on a lot of years of love and devotion, friendship and fun.
After taking care of the paperwork, Mike and I hustled her off to a pet supply store for a collar, tag, toys, food, and other paraphernalia. We hustled her to the vet for a check-up and shots. We hustled her around to show our friends. We were, looking back on it all, ridiculously besotted with her.
She was eight pounds of feisty attitude back then, and clearly not a Belle. Mike took the pink ribbon out of her hair and gave her a new name—Bubba. She grew into it, becoming a ten-pound alpha who arranged the days to meet a schedule firmly embedded in her tiny brain. Always fair, she moved from lap to lap, room to room, checking on us, herding us toward the leash hanging by the door, informing us it was time for breakfast or dinner.
She’s 15 now and often we’re the ones who herd her—waving our arms so she’ll see movement, clapping our hands so she’ll hear. She still informs us when it’s time to eat, but mostly she sleeps, curled in a special cushion in my office, snuggled on the sofa beside Mike, or wedged between the pillows on our bed.
Someday she may not wake up when I pet her head or put a dog biscuit under her nose. I hope that’s how it will happen. I hope she knows it’s time to leave and makes the decision herself. I hope she will go off in her dreams to explore whatever comes next for a devoted dog who always knew her own mind.