National Dog Day was this week. It’s made me think of all the things I celebrate about Joey every day. When I adopted him from the Amanda Foundation in July of 2004, I had no idea how much I was about to blessed with.
Here are just a few of the things I celebrate on National Dog Day:
- A cold wet nose that can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than I can, according to the scientists. For Joey, every scent is a story. (On some walks, it seems like the story is War and Peace rather than O Henry’s “Gift of the Magi.”)
- Velvet ears that are such a joy to stroke. Joey has floppy ears, but he can still lift and twist them slightly in response to what he hears (including my yada, yada, yada that he patiently puts up with).
- A lush tail that curls over his back, rises and falls with his emotions and swishes side to side. I always feel like I’ve earned a gold star when I see Joey’s tail sweep from one side of his body to the other at the sight of me.
- A rumbling growl that alerts and protects me.
- A sense of playfulness that turns a mundane walk down the hall to dump the trash into a racing, twisting, circling, dancing game.
- An ability to make friends. A week or so after Joey moved in with me, we were walking out to the side walk to explore the neighborhood. Someone who lives in our building whom I knew only by sight stopped to pet Joey. Then she turned to me and asked, “Have you just moved in?” At that point, I’d lived there 12 years. But I’d never had a furry, four-footed ice breaker before. Many of my best friends today are people that I met through Joey.
- The ability to be at peace here and now. Over and over again, I walk out the front gate intended to take Joey out for a quick leg-lift, brain buzzing with all that I have to do in the next few hours. A stubborn pull back on the leash pulls me up short. Joey is standing there, eyes closed, nose wiggling to get the scents and sense of the neighborhood. He looks about, then drops on his haunches to enjoy the sun and the warmth of the sidewalk. No to-do list. No schedule. No agenda. Just being in the moment. On my good days, I pause, sit down on the steps and let him lead me to here and now.