I often answered the same two questions when meeting children as I walked my dog Chelsea.
“Is she like the dog from Lady and the Tramp?” Immediately followed by, “Can I pet her?”
The answer to both was always yes.
She was simply the best dog ever.
She was also a minor miracle, although that has to be an oxymoron.
My husband never wanted a dog. Not an inside dog, and an outside dog is too much work for the limited companionship it would offer.
So for years we didn’t have a dog.
One day, totally out of the blue, my husband says,”You know, if you wanted to get a dog a Cocker Spaniel would be OK. We had one when I was a kid.”
Now we live near a major city in northern California and in the newspaper there was that day one, just one, ad for a Cocker Spaniel.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Chelsea’s been gone over two years and I miss her everyday.
The emptiness of the house when I return still underscores her absence.
The vacant spot on my knees where her muzzle always came to rest.
The bare wooden floor next to the fireplace that was once dedicated to her bed.
And the gaping hole in my heart are reminders of the incredible companion she was.
But the memories, though bittersweet, make me laugh.
The first time she rose up to her haunches, put back her head, and howled as I played the treble scales on the piano.
The day she went running around the house and came to a “cartoon” version of a screeching halt barking her head off at a wicker basket I’d taken out to wash off.
She was less than 4 months old when she pointed at ducks landing on the golf course.
Cockers are the smallest of the hunting breeds and she knew she was suppose to do something about the ducks.
I can still see her leaning forward and slightly lifting her right front paw.
The grandkids called her “beggar dog” because she’d sit quietly under the table and gently paw their little legs, hoping for a handout.
Silas, my youngest grandson, loved her. He’d wait by her and talk constantly while she ate.
She “sang” whenever the National anthem was played before a sporting event on TV.
One evening she joined in the worship portion of a Women’s Bible Study at my home. Of course we all laughed and so I took her upstairs and shut her in the bedroom. When we resumed she did too.
The Bible says, Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
She did, that night and many more.
She sang Happy Birthday at every Family Birthday Party too.
I had some big terra cotta pots with ferns.
She’d walk under them very slowly and her back legs would shake.
I asked the Vet and he said she must like how the fronds felt on her back.
The kids called it Jungle Dog.
She’d try to get under the Christmas tree.
Even her last Christmas I had to shoo her out.
She travelled with us from the time she was a puppy.
We had a motorhome and as soon as my husband pulled up in front of our house she’d plop down on the grass and stay there watching us load and making sure she wasn’t going to be left behind.
When she could no longer follow me upstairs at home she’d wait on the bottom step.
Even Shakespeare referred to the Spaniel’s propensity for companionship!
Every afternoon we’d walk, or early mornings in the heat of summer.
It took me a year to feel comfortable walking without her, but I stop to meet and greet every dog that looks at all friendly.
The love was unconditional.
The companionship so comforting.
The eyes so attentive.
The fur so soothing as I stroked down her sides.
Even that last morning, when I knew without a doubt the time had come to let her go.
She sat quietly in my arms, waiting.
She looked at me with those enormous brown eyes and then closed them for the last time.
The weight of her head cradled against my arm told me she was gone.
The signs are increasing that I am ready to think about finding another companion.
On a recent month long trip to Italy I took nearly 100 pictures of dogs.
I saw a young English Cocker Spaniel in Venice.
I felt a little jealous of how he looked at his mistress.
So I’m planning on falling in love again soon.
There are always so many animals that need a good home.
My Vet once told me that when he dies he wants to come back as my dog.
He better make it quick or he’ll have to get in line.