Glass Half Full
A rescue dog teachers her owner to think positively.
Some weeks before I encountered my future canine companion, I was hospitalized for the third time in less than three years for gastrointestinal distress. Although my mother had succumbed to stomach cancer at age 38, my diagnoses were inconclusive. The third hospitalization reminded me life is not forever. I thought of sharing my home with a canine companion again, for the first time since childhood.
One Saturday afternoon, I visited the pet-supply store to buy pellets for my cockatiel. Near the cash register, a diminutive dog of uncertain parentage lounged on the countertop. Papillon? Pomeranian? Long-haired Chihuahua? Noticing how intently I regarded this fluffy creature with the endearing overbite, the cashier explained to me that two women had found her wandering nearby. They chose the supply store over the animal shelter for her. These women guessed her age at 8 months, her breed as Chihuahua-Pomeranian.
Without warning, the cashier swept her off the counter and into my arms! I promptly handed her back. Nevertheless, the dog focused her soft, brown eyes on my face. I felt myself melting in her gaze. I hurriedly paid, then fled, but resistance was futile. Her image followed me all the way home. For the rest of that day, I counted all the reasons not to bring home a puppy at this juncture in my life: no time to research breeds, a house in need of puppy proofing, a backyard fence riddled with missing slats, and so on.
When the store opened at 10 a.m. on Sunday, I telephoned to inquire if the caramel-colored puppy was still available. Yes? Yes! I levitated all the way there in my minivan.
Since the day I brought her home in early 2001, Chili Puppers and I have navigated the ebb and flow of life's tides. Through accidents and crises, Chili Puppers barked, wriggled and danced as if all were right in the world. She gave me reason to persevere through three years of physical therapy. Chili Puppers' unrelenting joie de vivre inspired me to take pleasure in life's everyday moments: watering my house plants, ironing my clothes for work and strolling through the park with her.
In early 2007, Chili Puppers underwent emergency surgery for ruptured anal sacs. Barely a year later, she endured orthopedic surgery to correct a luxating patella. Within 18 months, Chili Puppers had undergone six operations. Each time, she soon jumped, danced and wagged all over as never before.
Cradling Chili Puppers in my arms, I resolve to confront life's adversities with her spirit. This, too, shall pass, and my joy will be greater than before.
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