We got a new puppy the summer before last, just a few weeks after we lost our beloved Goldie to old age. We named her Winnie after the orphaned black bear nicknamed for Winnipeg by the Canadian Cavalry Regiment who adopted her as their mascot. They smuggled her into Britian when they were deployed during WWI. Winnie the bear lived the rest of her life at the London Zoo, where she was admired by the boy A.A. Milne, who later memorialized her in his famous books.
We weren’t sure at first about our own Winnie. Our other two golden retrievers have been blond, fluffy, smart, and loving. Winnie has short red hair with no hint of blonde, fluff, or frankly, intelligence. As a puppy, she looked like a dachshund with long legs. She didn’t have much of a personality for a long time. Like most puppies, she was a pain through the chewing and housebreaking stage. To be honest, for a good long while, we weren’t sure we’d done the right thing in getting another puppy. Maybe, we thought, we were too old for one.
After awhile, though, she learned to smile. You know what I mean, dogs can smile. And laugh. But the best part was that she also learned to hug. She may not have arms, but she pushes into you just so when you wrap yours around her. And she has that redeeming quality that dogs possess…unconditional love. Dogs don’t care if you’re rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, in a good mood or cranky. In fact, they seem to sense when you’ve had a bad day and need their special kind of love. Our puppy has that special sense and knows how to give you the love you need. She’s still a pain, but she’s our pain. She’s still not very smart, but she’s a doggie genius at love. In fact, the only thing special about her is that she’s ours. We love her because she’s family. That’s what family is. You love them because you belong to each other. Somehow, that’s always more than enough.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” –Josh Billings