Dog is my copilot. For years, I was a “cat person.” I still am. I’ve had some wonderful companions of both feline and canine types over the years, but this particular dog is something else.
About 7 years ago, someone “dumped” a dog on us. This has happened more often than I care to think about; we live in a rural setting, and I think sometimes there is a big invisible-to-us neon sign over the house saying “deposit strays here.” That particular dog was a bit of a pest, had a death wish, and was also – oh yippee – pregnant. We named her “Dwish,” short for “Death Wish.” She was obviously part Blue Heeler and lived to try and herd cars. She also fixated on my husband, following him everywhere.
Dwish had her litter. Eight puppies. YIKES. She had them under the steps to the laboratory where my husband spends much of his workdays. (We work close to home. Very close to home.)
Knowing (and hoping) the pups would soon outgrow that spot, we fixed up the “puppy yard,” which was a wire fence around the doghouse. The doghouse is a bit over a hundred years old now; my great-grandfather built it for my grandfather’s dogs in the early 1900s. It’s a small building that you can stand up in, and had been moved and rebuilt over the years. My brother and I grew up playing in it, and it was the central command post for many strategic battles involving us, cousin and friends. Occasionally it’s been re-re-purposed back to its original purpose, and so we got Dwish and pups moved in.
As the pups were weaned, we would bring fresh food and water to the puppy yard and enjoyed seeing these little creatures explore, chew, yip, and play. Eight tails would wag as we’d approach with food and water. They were an assorted bunch, all right – some black and white, one fluffy brown and white one, some pure black, and a couple that were a mix of colors and features.
One such pup became the first at the fence on a regular basis. She wasn’t so interested in eating, though, as she was in playing. We’d decided to keep one of the pups.
“That one,” I told my husband. “The one that always wants to play, with the cowlick.”
One by one, the rest of the litter had homes, and this SweetGirl stayed with us. We eventually found a new home for Dwish on a less traveled road, as no electronic fence would keep her from chasing cars. Sweetgirl has a cowlick, all right. When she’s en guard, her hair stands up even more. You might say she has a permanent bad hair day, but I think it’s cute.
SweetGirl still loves to play. She’s not much at fetching, but likes to play hide and seek – she has quite the tracking nose. She lives to chase squirrels. When we’ve gone out of town, she stays at Camp Bow Wow. The first time she was there, they informed us that she’d jumped a 6 foot fence. We found that hard to believe until I saw her leap at least 5 feet up a tree after a squirrel.
She’s a great doorbell and watchdog, but with family, she can’t hold her likker. When she decides it’s time for her humans to wake up, said humans get a slurp on the nose. Or two or three. Our children are out of the house and at college, but she is thrilled whenever they come home. She’s thrilled whenever my husband or I come home, too – even if we’ve only been gone 10 minutes. We don’t like to leave her, and she comes along to the office (and occasionally on a route). The FedEx guy brings her treats (and so does our staff)! From her spot at work, she can keep an eye on office, lab and house. She takes her job seriously.
She decided early on that friend and music partner Bubba was a “brother of the fur” and
treats him accordingly. The fact that he is also a very soft touch for handouts at the table probably has nothing to do with her adoration of him.
She’s a companion, and yes, friend. She will crawl up behind me on a chair when the weather is bad. She’s like other dogs I’ve met in that when her humans are sad, she somehow knows this and stays close to give comfort. She makes us laugh by her sheer joy at simple things, and helps us to find the fun as well.
Dog spelled backwards is god, and though this only works in English, I think it’s kinda fitting. A beloved dog gives unconditional love, and always wants to be with their human. Sometimes dog wants to show us something neat, or something cool, or warn us. Sometimes dog wants to show us something that we don’t understand – like something dead and stinky they rolled in. (I suppose we can take that as a lesson in patience. Then again, God does have a sense of humor.)
As I write this, SweetGirl is at my feet, where she’s been for a while. If I get up, she follows me. She just wants to stay close. When my husband gets home today from fishing, she will greet him with frantic tail wagging and dog-kisses (probably more so because she misses him, but the smell of fish doesn’t hurt).
So yes, while God is my copilot, dog is also my copilot. One of the wonderful, simple, everyday miraculous gifts in life. We are grateful.