Last spring, in the midst of adjusting to life in my condo, a small dog came to live next door. His human, Linda, spends half the year here and half the year elsewhere. She’d lost her beautiful and docile Chow-mix Muffin the previous summer. After she returned to her other home, she visited the newly revamped local shelter to see how it had improved (she was a donor). She wasn’t expecting a small dog to capture her heart that day. Amongst the pit bulls and other large dogs, a light tan dachshund mix caught her eye. She supposed it would be alright to meet him. In a room used for humans and dogs to greet one another, the small dog flew into her lap. Several months later he took control of my heart.
I love animals and have had a variety of them over the years. Gerbils, fish, a white mouse named Herman, traipsed in and out of my childhood. Two dogs laid claim to me during my formative years: a female beagle mix named Mickey and a small brown dachshund named Zsa Zsa. Now, I prided myself on my “toughness” as a young person. Circumstances dictated I present a strong persona. What I didn’t realize until I was much older was that I was actually painfully sensitive. I suffered the loss of Mickey (struck by a car) when I was 8. We all know beagles like to wander and follow their noses. In the mid 1960’s there was no leash law in our town. Mickey suffered the fate of many a good dog.
Enter Zsa Zsa, a cross between a standard dachshund and a mini. She and I were like glue. That dog eased many a tear and listened to many a tale of woe during the 13 years we shared. When she became ill, it was decided I would be the one to take her to the vet to have her put down. It was a sad experience.
For several years after her demise I worked part time at a horse stable. There I was able to mingle with the horses and barn cats to get my animal fix. As my anxiety issues deepened throughout my adult life, the people around me encouraged me to get a dog. I did. For several months I waded through agony with a beautiful but terribly unstable Brittany pup. Finally I surrendered him to Brittany rescue, convinced I had harmed him in some way through my anxiety. The whole situation was too traumatic for me to try again.
I spent hours looking into therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. Not willing to be classified as handicapped, that avenue was closed to me. I contacted organizations about adopting a dog that hadn’t passed muster as service dogs only to learn there were huge waiting lists. I closed my mind to owning a dog. Yet, I still enjoyed interacting with friend’s dogs.
Enter Skippy. Skippy has been reincarnated a few times. In former lives he was known as Buddy and Potato. Not much is known about his former life experiences but at some point he experienced kindness. He is a sweet gentleman who has a penchant for licking. He does try to be a nipper at times but it’s more like he is trying to achieve contact rather than to be malicious. He “talks” through a series of grunts and whines. His tail never stops wagging. And it shouldn’t because Skippy has found a treasured life with Linda. He adores his human and vice versa. Skippy has a number of small round dog beds in which he snuggles with great delight.
Best of all, Skippy is happy to share the richness of his life with me. I visit with him every day and often accompany Skippy and Linda on their walks through the neighborhood. I’m blessed. Today Skippy leaves until next spring. Though I’m sad, and will miss them both, I have the comfort of my new memories and happiness in the anticipation of their return. My winter will be warmed by the blanket of Skippy magic.
FYI—I’m still not ready for my own, so will continue to live vicariously.