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Okay, here's the deal. Seraphim, as usual, went to bed along about 11:00. I normally stay up a little later, going to bed around 1 AM. I was finishing up some website updates, and was just about to pull up Blogger and do a little posting.
Said plans were derailed by Puddy, our 10-year-old Brittany/Cocker Spaniel mix. These days, Puddy doesn't like to go to bed immediately, and instead hangs out with me for a little while before going into the bedroom to curl up next to Seraphim.
It was just after midnight when I saw Puddy sitting in the doorway, delivering me this look. If you have a dog, you know what I'm talking about. Canines, of course, cannot speak their wants or desires in the Queen's English, however all one has to do is look at a dog's face ... you know they're telling you something just by the way they're staring you down.
I look at Puddy, and she barks. Phew, she must really want something! I figure she's ready to retire into the bedroom, so I get up and open the door so she can go in. She does, but then darts back out no sooner than I begin to close the door behind her.
The message is blunt and simple, even if not delivered in the British tongue: "Talmadge, it's BEDTIME, young man. I'm ready for bed, and I'm not about to wait for you to come to bed. I want to sleep next to you right now."
And so I go back into the room and shut off the computer. The blog can wait 'till morning. And as I got into the bed, and Puddy assumed her usual position -- her back against my leg and, these days, under the covers -- a thought hit me.
Boy, did it hit me.
A tan four-legged furry creature barely one-tenth my size is ordering me around! Best of all, it gave me a great idea for this week's TS9, as I counted not sheep, but the reasons I love Puddy damn near close to the level of which love Seraphim.
How do I love thee, Puddy? Let me count the ways:
1) UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE
Puddy was adopted by Seraphim; it was a mutual "love connection", as Seraphim found herself drawn to the proverbial "runt of the litter" ... and said 'runt' found herself drawn to Seraphim. Both picked each other out, and so Seraphim adopted the weeks-old puppy on Memorial Day weekend 1995. She named her Puddy (after Tweetie Bird's mutation of the word "puppy"). Seraphim raised her, housebroke her, and lavished her special brand of love upon her.
And, on my first date with Seraphim (March 7, 1998 - in case anyone's curious), a three-year-old Puddy sat on the floor staring me down as Seraphim and I sat on the couch watching a movie. She barked at me repeatedly. Who was this Talmadge person, and what was he doing sitting next to my 'Mommy'??!!
Lucky for me, it didn't take long for her to warm up to me. I truly love dogs like Puddy, and she soon began giving me just as much attention as she did Seraphim.
And today? A seamless and unconditional bond has forged. And I love that little dog as if I myself had raised her, just as she loves her 'Daddy.'
2) ONE WORD: HUGGIES!
To most people, it refers to a brand name of disposable diaper. In our home, though, it means the one-of-a-kind show of affection Puddy gives both of us. You have to see it to appreciate it; we get home in the afternoon and Puddy will dart toward the couch or chair where I'm sitting, jump up and just throw herself against my chest. It's something I believe Seraphim taught her to do, and she's the one who coined the term "huggie."
3) ATTACKS OF GREEN FUR
Most dogs have a jealous streak. They're egocentric creatures who want attention, want it now, and only want THEY to be the sole recepient. Puddy turns into a green monster whenever Seraphim and I express affection. She does not like it one bit. And yes, we play games with it .... "c'mon, Puddy, we're about to kiss, mmmmmmm!!!" (that "mmmmmmmm!" turns that fur green quicker than she jolts to attention for a strip of bacon.
4) ONE MORE WORD: KISSIES!
Puddy, unlike many other dogs, doesn't have a habit of licking a person's face. It rarely happens, but when it does, it's always one lick, short and brief. Kissies! The scarcity of her kissies makes them all the more special.
5) HER MOCK FEROCITY
When that doorbell rings, Puddy immediately gets into "watchdog"/"attack" mode, with this bark which sounds quite frightening -- especially along with how she bares her teeth.
It's all an act. She's scared of the intruders. Sometimes she'll then turn and run behind us, as if to say, "Okay, Mommy and Daddy, I did my job warning you about the intruder ... now do YOUR job and protect me!!"
6) PUDDY VS. EVIL KITTY
Watching Puddy in the backyard as she spars with this black cat (I think it's feral) which always hangs out in the wetlands area next door is as good as any classic sitcom. She'll get into ferocious bark mode and charge the cat. The cat will start to run, but the double back and charges toward the chain-link fence between the two opponents. And Puddy, God love her, starts running back toward the house.
Gawd, I love our dog.
7) BETWEEN THE SHEETS, BETWEEN THE PARENTS
Lately we've woken up to find Puddy in a very interesting position: right between Seraphim and me, and under the covers. While we sleep, Puddy's managed to nudge herself right between us to find her sleep spot.
I wonder if this is related somehow to item #3...
8) AND ONE MORE: MOPEY
When I go to Alabama for the weekend to visit my son Tiger, I have to get ready in a very discreet way -- when I'm ready to pack my suitcase, Seraphim runs interference, distracting Puddy. She knows what a suitcase means. And when she sees it being carried out by me, it means another weekend without her 'Daddy.' And she gets all mopey and depressed for the weekend. (and, when Seraphim goes to visit her parents for a weekend and I stay home, Puddy gets the same way).
There are few things more joyous than seeing the 180 in that dog's emotions when either of us comes back home after a weekend.
9) DREADING THE INEVITABLE
Puddy turned 10 years old back in April. With apologies to Lorne Greene, "That's 70 for you and me." She's energetic, feisty and full of life for a so-called 'senior dog.' Dogs of that size and breed tend to have a life expectancy of around 15 years. And I pray every minute that Puddy fulfills every second of those 15, and then some.
There's going to be a day when her life's work is done and she'll no longer be the beautiful Sweetie Girl I fell in love with in 1998. Tears can come to my eyes at the very thought that one day - hopefully VERY later than sooner - Seraphim and I will come home to a completely empty house after work. No huggies, no jealousy, and no begging-on-steroids at supper. I don't like to think about it, but lately the pained realization does surface: the time with Puddy in the past is now more than that which will be in the future.
People who don't have dogs or cats can never understand.
I could never limit my expressions of love for Puddy to just nine things - there are plenty more where that came from - but chew on those things for now.
Meanwhile, I'm Puddy-whipped. And proud of it.
I love you, Sweetie Girl!
Ciao for niao.
--Talmadge "Pet Parent" Gleck
Christmas Eve Reflections
3 weeks ago