Sometimes the size of a heart is hidden inside an unassuming place, right in front of you.
I grew up in a little town on Lake Superior. Ashland was a rugged place to live. I’ll admit the summers were short and the winters were long. There is just no way to sugarcoat the weather along Lake Superior. There are really bad storms and we thought everyone lived like that.
However, in southern Wisconsin where I live now, we don’t get snow in September, we wear shorts until October and there are not very many days when we are really snowbound. I still can’t get over that this is part of Wisconsin and we’re not up to our butts in snow and it’s December!
Last week my stepdaughter Kelly moved home. She’s saving up her money to buy her own place. Kelly is a wonderful, smart, talented and beautiful young woman. She is not afraid of anything and is always willing to try new things with much more courage than I’ve ever had. Kelly moved home and she didn’t come alone.
Kelly is caring for one of her coworker’s dogs. The coworker is out of town working on a project for a few months and she didn’t want her 10 year old dog, sitting alone in a motel in a strange town. I don’t blame her one bit. I can’t imagine having to make the choices she made, but I truly think she did the right thing. Kelly adores this little dog and frankly, I’ve noticed that Kelly is a lot more grown up than I realized.
Seeing her deal with Dusty and his health issues showed me that she really is a grown up woman. Wasn’t she playing with her Cabbage Patch doll just a few years ago? Singing along to Coal Miner’s Daughter in her little bedroom? Wasn’t that just a few years ago? Jeez, where did the decades go?
I was not surprised Kelly offered to care for this dog. Kelly loves dogs and if she had never gotten Dallis, I would never have known the joy of having a dog. I think I’m a better person because I learned so much from Dallis. She was strong and beautiful and had the biggest heart in the world. She and Austin made our house a home and we still miss them every day.
After our dear girls were gone, we did get two more dogs. Dino is a feisty Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I kind of think Dino’s breed name is a bit outlandish for such a little dog. I mean could they make it longer? I get that King Charles loved these dogs and there are alot of portraits that feature this breed in castles all over England, but seriously the name is too long. We also have Sammie Marie, a big yellow lab who is still mostly puppy who wiggles and jumps and gallops like a pony in the backyard and likes to be hugged.
Seriously, if you come to our house and sit down, Sammie expects a full body hug. She’ll put her paws on your legs and if you don’t hug her, she’ll knock you over and just lay down on you. Take my advice and just hug her, it’s easier that way.
So when Kelly moved back home last week, we got Dusty. He is little, 10 years old and very quiet. He is about half the size of Dino. He has long hair, a beard and looks absolutely adorable. So how would this tiny dog fit into our boisterous herd of canines? FYI: Anything over 2 is a herd to me.
On Monday when Kelly and Jerry went to work, I was alone with Dusty and Sammie Marie and Dino. Dusty perched on a chair and looked out the window. He napped and he snuggled with me for a while. I worried that the other dogs would push him around, and he did get jostled a bit, but after all he is the smallest in the house.
Then this morning, Jerry took Dino and Sammie to Lucky Dog Daycare in Madison for their normal play date and Kelly went to work, so it was just me and Dusty.
I’ll admit, I’m a little worried about a dog who doesn’t eat constantly. Dusty hasn’t been eating a lot, but that’s probably normal for his breed mix. He is part Yorkie and part miniature schnauzer. And then I noticed something that I hadn’t expected.
When Dusty was perched on the arm of a big overstuffed chair, looking out the window, I realized he wasn’t looking to see Kelly or Jerry or our other dogs. Dusty is looking out the window because he is protecting me and the house. This little tiny feisty dog, will not let anyone in this house without barking and yes, nipping at their ankles.
This little dog that could fit in my purse, is not just waiting for more people to pet him or for more treats or even a lap to sleep in. He’s perched in that window because that’s his job. He protects the house he lives in no matter which house it is.
Dusty has been through a lot of moves and new people in the past 4 weeks. He’s been shuffled from apartment to homes full of people and pets he never saw before but like any noble dog, he has adapted and he is taking his place in our house as a watchdog. A fierce little bag of hair
(I think all little dogs look like bags of hair) has stepped up and assumed the role of watch dog.
As a watch dog, Dusty is fast and fearless. He can run down the hall in a split second and he jumps really high, like all the way up to your arms. And there’s one other thing Dusty has done. He has demonstrated over and over that it’s not the size paws that matters, it’s the size of the heart that beats in the little chest of this dog that matters the most. His heart is as big as the whole outdoors and we are lucky to have him for however long he stays with us.
Who could be luckier than us? Three dogs, warm house and our first snow of the season is falling outside, it’s perfect.
Thanks for listening.