I just lived one of the best weeks of my life. I was fortunate to spend a week in Madison, Wisconsin with a three-month-old Goldendoodle by the name of Sunny. He was brought home by my sister and brother-in-law a month ago and is destined to be their much loved companion as well as a therapy dog. My sister is a social worker for a 20-bed child and adolescent psychiatry hospital. The dream is that after Sunny is trained and certified, he’ll accompany her to work every day. Right now however, his only job is to play and learn from puppy training.
Of course I lost my heart to him immediately. Predictably he’s all about the jaws, the teeth and chewing. (“Croc Jaws” is one of his nicknames.) Initially there was some confusion about what my sleeves, wrists and fingers are for but we managed to sort out this misunderstanding (for the most part.) His fur is divinely soft and I’m still jonesing for his indescribably marvelous puppy smell. He has wiry, curly whiskers that extend about two inches beyond his chops and, of course, melty brown eyes.
One of the most blissful moments was when he fell asleep on my lap. I wanted his nap to last forever. I also loved putting pillows down on his mat and lying there to give him argy-bargy with his dinosaur and Mr. Bubble. It was so much fun to feel his warm, fluffy little self right next to me or feel his soft paws on my hand as he held his “horn” in place to gnaw.
On Saturday we drove forty minutes to visit Sadie, a ten-month-old long-haired dachshund. I must have taken over thirty photos to try to capture their whirlwind chasing, tug-of-warring and wrestling as they tore around the living room but they were too fast for me and this was the best I could do.
Sadie was smitten with Sunny. When he went out for a potty break she ran to the window and watched his every move until he returned. When it was her turn to go out, she raced back in and ran everywhere searching for him until she spotted him on my sister’s lap. When we eventually said our goodbyes at the front door it was obvious she didn’t want him to leave.
She was the ring bearer at my sister’s wedding which was a rehearsed role that caused Stella some misgivings when The Big Moment arrived until the bride produced a treat thereby removing all doubts. Stella will lie on her back and let me rub her tummy while giving little growls of approval. Her people, Bill and Linda, sent me a video of her racing out to the curb, picking up their newspaper and racing back to the house in a matter of seconds. Who else could do this with such speed and efficiency? No one, that’s who. But I digress. Back to the meeting of the doggies. At one point Stella seemed content to be sitting on my lap until Linda called to Sunny to come up on the couch next to her. In an instant — so fast that I gasped — Stella vaulted into the spot Linda had been patting with a single mighty leap. Would some brazen upstart puppy be given the chance to worm his way into Linda’s affections? I don’t think so.
Sunny is a very interesting little guy. One afternoon while she was training him, my sister accidentally spilled a bunch of lamb treats by the gate that leads from her back yard to a park. Twice that day when Sunny went out he trotted importantly back to that spot to sniff every millimeter and make sure he’d not missed a single smidgen to scoff up. Another fun moment was watching him learn how to go up the basement stairs. He was feeling very doubtful about this challenge even though I stood at the top with a little piece of bacon, calling to him and encouraging him. When my sister demonstrated by scurrying up the stairs on all fours he instantly followed her example — oh what a fast learner! At the puppy training class a lady instructed her spaniel to sit. Sunny sat too just in case she was feeling generous with her treats and we couldn’t help laughing. He has a unique way of obeying the command “back up.” He does this move in the manner of a gamboling lamb with little backward capering hops. It took many and varied treats to persuade him to submit to a brushing. By the time my sister was finished, his fur was a cloud of downy fluff.
It’s wonderful to be home with Trudy again of course, whom I love dearly, but I do miss Sunny. I’m reminded of a quote attributed (correctly?) to Dr. Seuss that I’ve been thinking about ever since I first saw it: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” I’m doing both. I have no doubt whatsoever that even if it’s years before I see Sunny again — and hopefully it won’t be — he will remember me.