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It is inevitable, when you live with seven other beings, that someone catches your eye, makes you smile and reminds you life is about being happy. The down side to my little menagerie is the relative age of my animals. The two youngest are 6 and 7 years old, while the other five are all in double digits. One of the group is always having an issue, case in point, Ms. Duetz’s illness last week. The food alone for this small army of four-footed beings costs more than I spend on groceries and wine, but keeping them healthy cuts down on more expensive veterinarian bills.

Dallie (aka Dahlia) came to live with us two years ago. Most of her life she was a brood bitch for a Shar Pei breeder in Maine. When she became too old, she was passed off as a rescue. That only lasted a few months before the family got a puppy and Dallie was on Craigslist looking for a home. She has unique coloring, a “flowered Pei”, hence her named evolved from the rather masculine Dallas that she came with.  When asked to guess her age, the vet will only say she is ancient.

As the weather has cooled, Dallie (aka Dahlia) has rallied back from a summer of continual lameness and skin issues. My vet very kindly supplies me with donated jars of the medications she takes for degenerative bone disease in her front shoulder and hips. It keeps her mobile and comfortable. Years of ignoring her ear infections has resulted in almost total deafness and causes her head to shake, as if she could clear it to catch sounds that allude her. The cooler weather has awakened her interest in the world at large.

She came to me with a soiled and smelly blanket and a sorry dog toy I called “Flat Cat.” The blanket had to go and she didn’t seem to miss it but as nasty as Flat Cat was, she proudly carried him everywhere the first week. I discovered why she didn’t have a nice fluffy dog toy after she ripped into all of Alice’s favorites. No, this girl needs a tough toy. When Flat Cat’s stuffing finally wouldn’t stay stuffed, I replaced it with a tough skinned fish, with fur.  Who thinks of these things?? This summer she sought out toys less and less. Her favorite spot was in front of fan I set up for her on the cool tiles of the entrance.

I came down the stairs from my office the other day. Everything was working against me, from technology to my lack of creative inspiration. While it was warm in the loft, I felt the morning chill as soon as I hit the last step. I shook myself mentally and shuffled to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Grumbling,  I slid the mug into the microwave and berated myself and the computer for our sluggish performance. I just felt cranky all over.

As I came around the corner with my steaming cup, I almost stumbled over Dallie. She had dug out the infamous hairy fish toy and was grinning at me, wagging her whole body. “What is wrong right now?”

Happy birthday to a lovely, elderly lady who, for however long I have her in my life, will always be the ambassador of joy.

Dallie and the fish

6 comments on “Happy Birthday Dahlia

  1. Touring NH says:

    I agree, who thinks up these toys! The unconditional love our 4-footed family members give us always brings me joy. It’s amazing how they seem to know just when to do something to lift our spirits! Wishing Dallie “Happy Birthday”

  2. Reblogged this on Therapeutic Misadventures and commented:

    Thought I would throw this out once again as today is Ms. Dahlia’s third “birthday” with me…

  3. julieallyn says:

    I’m not much of a dog person but this had me smiling from start to finish. 🙂

    Love your writing Martha and I do so appreciate the fondness you have for all your many, beloved creatures!

    1. They are good fodder for blog posts if nothing else!

  4. Touring NH says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how our four legged family members always seem to know just when we need them the most. They know when and how to make us smile and when we just want the comfort of their presence. Dallie and the rest are fortunate to have such a wonderful, caring “Mom”

    1. Thanks Laura. I am surrounded by amazing beasts and though I grumble some days about the work and expense, I can’t imagine life without a single one of them.

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