One of the many good things about our Golden Retriever, Willa, is she's happy... She wakes up happy and stays that way - unless there's a solid reason not to be. And from her very upbeat point of view, there aren't all that many. I mean, if everybody goes somewhere and she's not invited, she's not all that happy. Or, if she has to go to the dog groomer to get "washed and ironed," she puts on the brakes. Or, if somebody forgets to get knuckle bones from the butcher she pulls a long face. But that's about it.
So you can imagine how happy she was this past weekend on her birthday. She couldn't stop smiling - or sneezing. (Smiling tickles her nose.) We sang all her favorite songs: "The Doggie Girl Song," "Little Willa" and "I'm Just Wild About Willa!" - to name a few. And of course we belted out "Happy Birthday" as we gave her presents: a twisted, bright colored "swinger" that she can toss up in the air and wrap around her muzzle or play tug of war with, growling all the while as she's pulling your arm out of its socket - a sort of stuffed porcupine that she ripped to bits in about 3 minutes - bones of all shapes and flavors and her absolute favorite thing of all - jumping (seems more like flying) into the pool to "retrieve" dozens of tennis balls. And all the whole, crazy as it sounds, if Willa's happy and "smiling" - so are we.
And speaking of "crazy," here's the thing: We - my husband, Jim, our daughters, Kate and Abigail, and I - are all absolutely crazy about Willa. I don't know, there's just something about her. (Like "happy.") Ever since she was an 8 week old handful of cream-colored fur (8 years ago) she's occupied front and center in our hearts. We can't just pet her, we have to put our arms around her and hug her. And I - well, I'm probably the biggest sop of all. I tell her she's the best dog in the world (including New York) just about every day. When she makes a particularly great jump into the pool - high in the air, legs in tuck position, head up - I'll say something like, "Good one!! That's your best so far!!" Abigail said recently, "You talk to her like she's your grand daughter, for God's sake!" Unruffled, I said, "What's wrong with that?! I mean, at least until somebody else comes along."(When you think of it, that's really rich coming from Abigail. When she hasn't seen Willa for maybe a day, she calls and says, "I miss Willa!! Send me a picture..."
Willa "gets it" about people. She reads voices, faces and body language like a (good) shrink. Last week I had to "re-swag" a drapery that had been taken down to be cleaned - which meant I had to climb up on a step ladder, then climb on top of a radiator cover and hold onto a few inches of molding around the window for dear life. Willa did a double-take and stopped dead when she walked in and saw me on the radiator...swagging.. She actually stood there watching me with a worried, anxious look on her face (she's seen me fall down from things before..) for a half hour.(I kept messing up the swagging and had to start over...) Finally, when I more or less got it right and stepped down onto the floor, she sighed, lay down - and took a nap.
Feng shui experts claim that keeping a pet in your home can maintain the "chi" and that the very presence of an animal actually enlivens and "charges" the space. I believe it. But what I know for sure is that if Willa's not there - like out for a walk, or at the vet or wherever - our house is empty. But when she's there, boy, she's there 100%.
Are you crazy? She's just a dog!!!" you might be shouting. "No, she's not," Jim would answer. "She's a Willa...
So Happy Birthday, dear Willa!! And thanks for "being there." You're such a good girl. The best, actually. And listen, here's to the next 8 years, okay?
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