She comes up to the sofa every hour or so, looking for a neck rub and a walk. When she get’s outside, she’s off like a shot. She’s never gone long. She’ll visit the neighbor at the end of our 900 ft dirt driveway and then go a little further up the hill to say hello to another neighbor. Then she comes back to sit in the shade of the flowers or the picnic table.
She doesn’t guard the house. She watches for other animals, but she’s on the lookout for playmates. She rarely worries about predators or chipmunk or deer, as my garden can attest. Her fur barely covers her skin, and yet she is a study in shedding. When she wants attention or out, her whimpering would inspire the most whiny five-year-old to new depths.
But for all the mess, spectacular vet bills, and neediness, this little hound dog gives me much more in return – even things I hadn’t expected. I knew she would be affectionate – whether or not dogs love is up to the experts to decide, but she is pretty convincing in her performance. I knew, even lying quietly next to me while I work, she would give me companionship when the kids were in school – not a small thing when you’re in the middle of nowhere. And she teaches me.
As I watch her endure my first-grader’s intense affection, she teaches me patience. When he strokes her face and accidentally rubs her eye, she gives no sound of protest or reproach, and she teaches me tolerance.
And most of all, her jubilant quest to engage with the world – from the tiniest tree frog to our neighborhood bear (usually in play) – reminds me everyday that at least a little pluck is a prerequisite for true happiness.