Yesterday was Pippy's fifth birthday. In dog years that makes her thirty-five which in human terms equates to settling down, raising a family and paying a mortgage. Pippy was fixed (sorry girl) and doesn't pay rent. She is, on the other hand, unbelievably settled and paying her way in free snuggles. Pippy is my faithful friend, constant companion and unofficial therapy dog.
And to think five years ago I didn't consider myself a "dog person."
I had grown up with a dog. Puff, the furry white Japanese Spitz, was a fixture in my front yard. One of my earliest childhood memories dates back to the day I named her on the drive home from purchasing my white ball of fluff. At first I toyed with the name Snowball but the name was too long. I liked the brevity of the name Puff. It stuck and so did Puff. She lived a wonderful sixteen years. She lounged in the front yard under the sycamore tree, barked at teenage boys who walked past the house and slept at the foot of my bed all of my growing up years.
When Puff passed away I was only a few months away from leaving for college. The thought of getting another dog wasn't even a glimmer in my mind or my parent's for that matter. Years passed before the dog conversation resurfaced.
But on the sandy shores of Hilton Head Island a Schnoodle brought the topic of dog ownership back into the picture and, like a dog with a bone, it was a topic I refused to drop. After watching a lively Schnoodle prance obediently next to his owner on the beach along the Atlantic Ocean I was convinced I had just become a dog person. The only thing I still needed was a dog. Preferably a Schnoodle dog.
Two weeks later I was in the car with a puppy leash, collar and wad of cash in hand to retrieve the Schnoodle of my dreams. After searching online, "oohing" and "awing" over countless pictures of little balls of fur, I had found a breeder only two hours away from home with a litter of pups ready to find their forever homes. The breeder had two girls left, Abby and Maggie. I told her I would meet them both.
The dogs were plopped down in the grass when I first saw them. I plopped down too and waited to see what each dog did. Maggie paid no attention. She was off sniffing. But Abby took an immediate interest in the new human in her presence. I petted her and she sniffed me. Then I walked around the grass and she followed me.
I picked Abby, named her Pippy and never looked back.
Five years ago I couldn't imagine planning my days around dog walks, shopping for durable dog toys and sleeping best with a dog curled up against my side. But Pippy changed everything. Pippy made me a dog person. Or, more accurately, a Pippy person.
The five years Pippy and I have spent together have been an adventure I could never have imagined the day we met at that grassy campground in Northern Ohio. I didn't foresee years of undiagnosed illness, moving to Florida, Ohio and Florida again. I couldn't predict the weeks I had to spend away from my Pippy love while I searched for answers to my health mystery. Even more, I couldn't imagine how much I'd miss her while I was away.
Most of all, I never predicted how wholeheartedly and completely I would fall in love with my beloved ball of fur.
For all of the ups and downs of the past five years - being sick, getting diagnosed with MS, scouring the country for healing and relief - Pippy has been a faithful support and friend. In episodes of extreme suffering she has sensed my need for comfort and come to my aid. When I've been lonely and yearning for companionship she's snuggled near and shown me love.
I don't know what the next five years will bring but if they are anything like the last five I know I don't need to worry. I'll have my furry friend at my side and we will face the world together, hand in paw.
So, happy birthday, Pippy. And thank you for an incredible five years.