It was only a matter of time before I devoted an entire post to Olive, my 14-month-old, 6.5-pound Maltese. If you’ve ever loved a dog, you know how it is: they burrow deep into your life and become so much a part of its fabric that without them, things unravel. I found this out in 2015 when my 15-year-old Yorkie, Daphne, died after a long, excruciating spiral into dementia. (Yes, dogs suffer from dementia, too, although I didn’t know it until Daphne was diagnosed). That was an extremely painful episode in my life, watching her slow, and ultimately dramatic, disintegration, and when it was over, I wondered if I could go through it again. I still wonder. My friend LeAnn, who has lost many animals over the years, asked a question to which we already knew the answer: “Why do we do this to ourselves? We know how the story of life with a dog always ends.”
Because we must.
I lived over a year without a dog, and then decided that while life had become much easier—no midnight trips outside for potty, no rushing home to make sure the food is out, no demands to play tug-of-war at the end of a long and tiring day—it wasn’t better. It was, in fact, flatter. A dog lends dimension to one’s life. You see the world differently when they’re around. Did you know, for example, that there are a myriad of things—many of which are disgusting—lying around in your yard awaiting discovery? I do! Daphne introduced me to the slow meander. One of my fondest memories is of the two of us walking in the old neighborhood stopping to smell the lilacs every time we came upon a bush. I would smell the flowers up top, she would smell those nearest the grass. She taught me to notice things.
And now Olive has come along.
I got Olive last July (a year ago this week!), after I found myself apprroaching strangers’ dogs and playing with them in the park across from the office building where I worked at the time. “Can I play with your dog?” That’s the question kids ask, and while it sounds cute when they say it, it takes on a somewhat pathetic hue coming from a middle-aged woman. It became obvious to me that it was time. The story of how Olive came to live with me is rather long, and not particularly interesting, so I won’t go into it here. But I had my doubts in the beginning. She bit me when we first met. She was the cutest fur puff I had ever seen, but her puppy teeth were little sabers, and that tiny mouth of hers was snapping closed and clamping down constantly. In fact, it seemed as though she was all mouth. She is still a biter, incidentally, though she never bites the kids, only adults. Well, really, only me, I think. Aside from the biting, Olive is far and away the easiest dog I’ve ever owned. She was potty-trained in two weeks flat. She never jumps on the furniture (she can’t reach it!) or runs away from home. She’s not a perfect dog—I come home nearly every day to find all of the contents of my hamper strewn across my bedroom floor. She tears up papers and makes messes. She barks every time—and I do mean every time—she sees a golf cart go by (and, as we live on a golf course and my living room has big windows looking over the green, she sees a lot of golf carts going by). But, what can I say? I wouldn’t give any of that up for all the money in the world.
So, I thought I would share a day in her life with you. I had some time off this week, so we spent a lot of it together. I followed her around with a camera. What follows is a chronicle of our day.
We begin our day with playtime at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They have a fenced-in backyard, so Olive can run free. Her favorite game is called “ball.”
Bath time. She’s complained of the indignity of being photographed in this way for the world to see. But I ask you, have you ever seen anything cuter?
Thank you for indulging me. I imagine that reading about someone else’s dog ranks right up there on the Yawn-O-Meter with detailed accounts of one’s ailments and videos of strangers’ weddings. But, in a way, Olive is an important part of this blog. My life is richer because of her, and, well, she’s always right next to me as I tell my tale.
Until next time…