It’s hard to believe, but it is four years to the day since my husband, Carl, died. Thoughts of him, and the life we shared here at Grandma’s Ranch, have been poignant of late as I prepare to sell the property and move.
All of the busyness of preparing for the big move has led my mind down a lot of different paths, and this morning as I took a walk with my dog, I stopped to take note of what a great dog she is.
Poppy was Carl’s dog first. I got her as an early birthday present for him one October because he’d been saying he would like a Border Collie. Our neighbors had a great dog, Bear, and Carl thought it would be nice to have one, too. Poppy is a mix of Border Collie and Australian Shepard, but that was close enough.
I know I will never have a dog as smart and as good as she is. Poppy is now 11 years old, so I know there are not many years left that I will share with her. Her age is wearing her down, just as mine is reminding me that I am not 39, and I have decided to make whatever time she has left special. She is no longer banned from all people food. I give her a little bite now and then, and she is most happy about that.
Poppy can no longer walk, or run, as far as she used to. So I am being careful on how far I take her on the morning walk. It is great that I can leave her a good ways up my driveway and tell her to stay, so I can walk a little farther down the road. When I return, she is always where I left her, waiting for me to tell her what a good dog she is.
Because of her breeding, it is not surprising that Poppy is so smart. She trained easily, and quickly, to basic commands and good manners, and there are times I swear she understands full sentences.
In the first picture below, she is waiting patiently for me to come back from the second-leg of my morning walk. If you look closely, you can see she has her ball. Just in case I might want to throw it once or twice. Ball chasing is also limited now, and there are several things I say to end the play, “We’re done.” “That’s all.” “Just one more.” “Poppy, I’m done.”
No matter which phrase I use, she knows to stop where she is and lie down as there will be no more ball playing at the moment. She also understands, “I’m going in now.” And will drop the ball and follow me into the house. I could still be standing halfway to the barn when I say that, so she is not just conditioned to respond when I step up to the back porch.
The cats think Poppy is pretty great, too. She always waits patiently for her turn at the water dish, letting the cats go first.
Do you have that one special dog or cat that none other will quite ever match? Please do share in the comments.