First comes the brush off. I chalk it up to a bad day. A few days goes by and she refuses to look at me, to the left, to the right, but not at me. I grumble under my breath.
Finally, she avoids me altogether and runs to my daughter. An unfriendly coworker? A friend on the outs? No, I’m talking about our dog Nittany. My daughter is home so Nittany, a Bichon Frise – Lhasa Apsa mix, only has eyes for her. I may as well be invisible, except for the nights when I feed her or the rare times when I take her for a walk after I go for a run, and then she only acknowledges me for a few brief seconds.
I start to take offense, but then I remember that in a few short weeks, when my daughter is gone again, Nittany, 20 pounds of hair and fluff, will come running back to me. I give her a break too, because she’s getting up in years.
Several weeks ago, right about the same time that Hollywood released the sappy canine movie, A Dog’s Journey, Nittany celebrated her 10th birthday , making her 56, middle aged in human years.
A spot in our hearts
As much as I love teasing my daughter about Nittany’s laser beam focus on her and her alone—God forbid anyone else try to get in the middle—I can’t imagine life without Nittany. When I come home at the end of the day, she comes running down our steps, her little legs hurdling down the stairs, faster than her body can go, to jump and frolic at my feet.
Of course, she’s trying to convince me to walk to the cabinet to get her a treat. If I don’t move fast enough, she jumps and skips even higher, so much so that I worry she’s going to hurt herself.
To make matters worse, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think she was malnourished. She jumps and makes a spectacle, trying to get anyone to give her a notice. It’s like she saying, “feed me, feed me, feed me.”
A second mother
The strange thing about Nittany is that she may be small in stature, but she’s a giant when it comes to protecting the rest of us. She considers us her brood. She paces constantly on her perch on our sofa watching our yard until the entire family is back home safe and sound.
I’m not sure what Nittany is looking for on her perch, but I know one thing, she’s made sure to let us know when intruders, i.e, little bunny rabbits and squirrels in our neighborhood, have dared walk on our property. I feel safer already.
My wife let Nittany out one night recently to take care of business. When they came back in, my wife got sidetracked and fell asleep on our couch. Oh no, Nittany was having none of that, she whined and groaned until my wife woke up and marched upstairs. Nittany didn’t even jump in bed with us, she went running off to my daughter’s room. She just wanted everyone safe and sound in their rightful, normal spots. In her eyes, things weren’t right until my wife was fast asleep in her and my bed.
A Dog’s Journey:
A beloved family member
Yes, in these ten short years, Nittany has nudged her way into all five our hearts. If I didn’t think it would make her sick, I’d get her a birthday cake to celebrate and let her go to town. Oh, you may laugh. You may lecture me on how she’s just a dog. You may even ramble on with some nonsense about how cats are better than dogs. I’ll have none of that.
Nittany is one of us. She’s family.