We have a dog that we got five years ago when my faithful companion, Magic, died. We actually got the puppy – for she was a puppy at the time – for Magic’s puppy, who was ten years old by then. Magic’s puppy was named Blackie and she grieved hard when Magic died. She laid in the chair Magic always occupied and didn’t eat much and seemed to lose interest in life. She didn’t immediately regain interest, but she did get out of the chair the night we brought the puppy named Joy home.
Joy was not joy for me. She peed. She pooped. She whined and chewed and generally acted like a puppy. My middle son spent time house training her and my oldest son played with her a lot. I just watched to see if she’d perk up Blackie, which she eventually did.
Joy preferred males to females, so I was just in her peripheral vision most of the time. I would sometimes be the one to feed her or take her out, but most of the time my sons did those things.
Lately Joy and I have started paying each other more attention. One of my sons lives with me right now and she sleeps in his room and for awhile he was tending to her completely. I started taking her out when I’d take Blackie out. I can’t walk Joy because she pulls too hard on the leash, but I can supervise her in the yard. I began to talk to her when we went outside because she was doing things I didn’t like – like barking at people. I had already trained her to know what STAY meant because one day she tried to follow me outside without a leash on her. I’ve talked to her a lot, actually. This is my first year of not working and she will listen when I talk. I’m lonely. She’s underfoot. I talk to Blackie too, but Blackie is 15 years old now and hard of hearing. So I talk to Joy.
For some reason all this talking and attention has convinced Joy that she’s my dog. She leaves her tennis balls at my bedroom door. She loves to play fetch and I’ll throw them for her. (I do want to buy her an iFetch when they get the one made for the larger balls.)
One day we were outside and my neighbor’s mean large bulldog charged at me and Joy got between us and stared him down. She’s a smaller dog. She weighs about 35 pounds and is part collie. But she got between me and him and dared him to come any closer. The next day I went shopping and bought her a new bed. Her old ones were worn out, but she still slept on them. She was happy with her new one. Blackie had two dog beds. One is an orthopedic bed because she has arthritis. When Blackie got a new orthopedic bed for Christmas, I put her old one out in the dining room and Joy frequently lies on that.
Joy likes to be in the hall between my and my son’s rooms.
When I’m washing dishes, she’ll roll her ball into the back of my foot until I stop and throw it for her. She leaves her tennis balls in front of my door frequently and I have to check to be sure I don’t step on one and fall.
I’ve tried to tell her I’m too old. Stay with my son. But she has suddenly decided I’m who she wants to spend time with.
As I watch Blackie age more every day, I wonder if Joy knows that soon I will need her very, very much.