PET CORNER
Do You Know Your Dog Is Smiling?
By Allen and Linda Anderson

 

 

This is a question people have often asked as they pass us walking around the lake near our home in Minneapolis. Our dog, Taylor, an energetic yellow Labrador retriever, gets the goofiest grin on her face while she accompanies us (or rather, we’re accompanying her). Her little doggy heart is full of joy and delight to have this opportunity for companionship along with great spring and summer sniffing.

Dogs know things. They know lots of things. Anyone who lives with a dog will tell you this. Dogs know when you’re coming home. They know when to hit you up for a treat. They know when you are sad. Especially, dogs know how to teach us about ourselves.

In Shirley MacLaine’s wonderful book, “Out on a Leash: Exploring the Nature of Reality and Love,” she alternates chapters with her own comments and the commentary she’s receiving from her dog, Terry. The dog calls Shirley his Mistress Mother, or MM for short. On page 173 Terry “writes,” “Sometimes I’m a mirror for her [MM] when she’s conflicted. At those times she looks at me huddled in my little corner and I think she realizes I’m reflecting her mood because I want her to see what it looks like. It’s not a pretty sight. Maybe I’ll run over and jump into her lap. Then she will pet me and maybe she’ll understand.”

Below is a touching story that we received from one of our Angel Animals Day Brightener Newsletter readers. It illustrates the point that dogs know far more than we might have imagined and they care about us far more than we’ll ever understand.

Pinkey
Bob Shaw lives with his wife in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He writes about Pinkey, an unforgettable dog from his childhood.

“Seems like I was around nine when she came to live with us. Dad had wanted a blonde cocker spaniel for quite some time, and friends of my parents had a litter of puppies to sell. One of them was a blond cocker. Twenty-five dollars was quite a sum to pay for a puppy in those days, and Mom was pretty firm with her no. It took him awhile, but Dad finally talked her in to it, with a trip to see the litter. One look was all it took. The dog was blonde with just a tint of red and a nose full of freckles. In no time at all, she became “Pinkey.”

“There was very little in her new home that Pinkey didn’t consider to be hers, including me, her only kid. It wasn’t long before shoes, furniture, and anything else chewable became reasonably safe. One of her favorite tricks was shining our shoes. She’d roll over on her back and wiggle and squirm on top of our shoes till she thought they were shined. The more we laughed, the harder she’d work at it.

“Living next to the fairgrounds held a fascination for Pinkey. She’d burrowed a hole under the fence, and usually used it for whatever adventure she happened on to. One of the stands from the fair, which was set up just beside her hole, was a throw-the-baseball-at-the-milk bottles thing. Pinkey loved playing fetch. She would sneak under the tent and grab the ball as it hit the ground, then head for her hole with her long ears flapping in the breeze behind her.

“Before we knew it, the yard was full of baseballs. Dad, worried that Pinkey might be caught and hurt, gathered up as many of the balls as he could find and took them back to the owner. He explained what was happening and wanted to make sure the dog wouldn’t be hurt. He promised to return any balls.

“The man started laughing and told Dad that they had watched Pinkey steal the balls and thought it was the cutest thing they’d ever seen. He assured my dad that they would never hurt the little dog and would appreciate the return of the balls. For the next several years, an old baseball would show up from some hidden spot and bring back an old memory.

“I graduated from high school, and went into the military. Whenever I came home on leave, Pinkey was always the last one to whom I said good-bye. She seemed to understand every word I ever said to her. Those big brown eyes held so much intelligence. Then I was off for the other side of the world to Viet Nam.

“My first letter home was met with a lot of barking and enthusiasm. Pinkey must have caught my scent on the letter. After my family had read the letter and left it on the table, Pinkey sneaked up on the chair and snatched it. Mom found the dog curled up in her bed with my letter. “You little thief,” she said. Then Pinkey looked at my mother with watery eyes, pointed at the letter with her nose, and just looked back at her. Mom told me later, “It just broke my heart.” From then on, Pinkey ended up with all of my letters, and continued to keep every letter I wrote home on the bed with her.

“Several years later, Mom called to tell me that Pinkey had passed on. She had been almost sixteen. She was put to rest in the backyard she loved so much. I found a marble slab to carve her name into. Over thirty years later, I can still walk out to the backyard and see Pinkey’s tombstone. Just as it was then.

“A few years ago, Dad was having some work done under the house. The workman came out with what was left of an old baseball. We just smiled, and said, “The little thief.”

“There is a place called The Rainbow Bridge, where a little blonde cocker with a freckled nose is playing ball, and waiting.”

Pinkey’s love for Bob passes through time and transcends death. There are many dogs smiling from their heavenly perches on each of us who have loved them. One day, we will be reunited with these dogs and see their goofy grins once again. It wouldn’t be heaven without them.

Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of “God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine” (New World Library) and “Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals (Plume). You are invited to visit www.angelanimals.net  and sign up for the free Day Brightener online newsletter. Send your true stories to Angel Animals Network, P.O. Box 26354, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or e-mail angelanimals@angelanimals.net .


Return to the May/June Index page