By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Two important events happen in the latter part of November -Thanksgiving and Dash the Wonder Dog’s birthday. I have much to be grateful for this year, but first things first. Last Thursday Dash turned 11 and celebrated with his girlfriend, Lilly. As you can see, he’s licking his chops because she is so darn cute. She not only brought him a spiffy birthday toy, but she also paid for his breakfast! That made her even more attractive. She will turn 11 next month and her owners, Bob and Dahl, and I hope Dash and Lilly will be celebrating for many years to come.
I was talking about Dash the other day when someone commented, “You know, he’s got you well trained. You need to treat him like a dog.” I’m glad Dash wasn’t within earshot of that comment. A dog, indeed. I am well aware that he has the upper paw in this relationship, but it has been well-earned. After all, he gained his nickname, “The Wonder Dog”, when on his first day in our home, he turned my husband, Alan, from an indifferent dog owner into a complete sap. Over the years he became our loving companion, whether we were sitting on the couch or traveling hours in a car. As long as he was with us, we were all content. He brought joy to others when he worked as a therapy dog and has excited countless children who have approached him for a pat and the occasional lick. In the past four months since Alan’s death, Dash has been my anchor. He has provided structure for my day and a reason to get up in the morning. He demands to be fed (on time!) and jauntily takes me outside for a walk each day. His head resting on my leg is all the comfort I could ask for. At night, he curls up on a pillow next to mine, and as I nuzzle into his downy fur, he looks me in the eye as if to let me know everything will be okay. His snoring can resemble a freight train, but mostly it is a rhythmic, soft sound next to my ear that lets me know I’m not alone. He has a heart condition and eleven is getting up there for a Cavalier, so I don’t know how long I will have him. But I do know this: as long as I am drawing breath, Dash will be spoiled rotten.
As for Thanksgiving, obviously I will have an empty chair at my table this year. There have been some moments when I’ve thought about pulling the covers up over my head until January 2 and just let the holidays slide by. But on reflection, I realized that although life will never again be the same for me, I am lucky to have had almost four decades with a wonderful husband. Over the past four months I have been blessed by the warm embrace of family and friends, who have sustained me through a very tough time. What better time than the holidays to celebrate that? So especially this week as we pause to give thanks, I want to express my gratitude to my family, friends and to so many of you who have reached out to me. You have put the “thanks” in my Thanksgiving. I wish everyone the very happiest of holidays this week. Remember to have that second slice of pie!!