I now have a dog. Her name is Bella. She’s a mix of Pomeranian and Chihuahua. She’s not really mine, but visits me so much that I regard her as mine. You see, she is actually my older daughter’s dog, that girl who moved in next door to me in the cottage that we remodeled this past year. My older daughter is technically my neighbor now, while the younger daughter, Miss Gallop-a-Trot, continues to reside on the tropical Hawaiian island of Kauai. I can hardly keep all this straight in my own mind some days, as I thought I would be retiring in Kauai and the daughters would be slaving away on the mainland as I have had to do for so many years, but somehow all that got reversed, and I am still here.

Nevertheless, Bella has taken up permanent residence very close to me, but in the new cottage that we had built next door to us. When the daughter wants to announce her presence in the main house, little Bella is let in the back door first. When she comes running I hear the little paws, slipping and sliding across the kitchen vinyl floor, upon which she can barely stand, in all her excitement to come pay a visit to me and the wife. Her toenails won’t sink in deep enough to stop her from sliding in all directions, which is quite an amusing way for her to come greeting us. Her forward charge of exuberance looks similar to an out-of-control skater on ice.

She has been part of our life for several years, moving over to Kauai to live with her master, and then being shipped back home for barking too much in a beach condo where dogs are not supposed to dwell. She had to go through a series of shots, head-achy paperwork, and quarantine, before leaving the mainland for Hawaii, only to be kicked out of her tropical home by neighbors who don’t love a good bark every few moments. It’s okay, however, because she had been moved into the place where it had been previously agreed that dogs cannot dwell. You would think such a little dog would not make that much difference to others, especially in a land where roosters and chickens run wild and free and the crowing goes on 24/7.

The daughter stayed and the dog came back to the mainland to live with the daughter’s friend and another little doggy for a year or so. But now we are all here in one place, in two side-by-side homes, with no plans for any of us to move, and this cute little fluff ball running back and forth, while expressing her purest joy to all who come near. She has become arthritic, however, which I understand is commonly the fate for many little dogs. Before she picked up this inflammation in her legs, she would hop on her rear two legs with perfect balance for hours, as a means of soliciting extra snacks between meals. Now she will wag a tail and give an expressive smile when food is on her mind. I know better though. Food is always on her mind.

We do not want to fatten her, but we enjoy spoiling her, as there are currently no grandchildren on this side of the bloodline. The wife is grandma and I am grandpa, and I am coming to understand now that such is the way with dog owners in this world. I never would have guessed my only grand child would be so furry faced, and with such a pointed nose as this. I guess one comes to an age when anything that moves and wants to dance in front of your face is welcome enough to include in your list of beloved family members.

She likes to be spoon fed chicken-flavored baby food directly from the jar, if only just a bite or two. It’s an understanding that her and grandma have developed between the two of them, but sometimes I get suckered into the scheme as well. I’ve always been a cat person, but she’s about the size of a cat, only with a different tune to her howl, so I am learning to make the adjustment. I have a pretty good cat-growl that really amuses her.

The nicest part of our relationship is that when we are tired of dealing with her, we can deliver her right back to the neighbor lady next door. Within a matter of a few hours, however, the yearning for her friendly, cuddling personality returns to us, and suddenly she is back in our laps for another round of friendliness and chicken-licking spoon feeding. I think that perhaps when civilization has finally turned over and given its last gasp, as many prognosticators say will happen ever so soon, we lucky ones will have our hounds, big or small, to give us comfort.

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