Turning 13!

My best friend has been having some problems lately. She doesn’t run or jump as well as she used to in her younger years. She’s spends a lot of her time sleeping or acting like she’s sleeping and her once jet-black beard and eyebrows are now filled with gray hair.

Despite it all, my best friend couldn’t be happier and is getting ready to celebrate a big birthday. She’s turning 91 in dog years – 13 in regular ones. Of course, I’m talking about Nittany, our Lhasa Apso – Bichon Frise. (Yes, look at her, isn’t she adorable?)

I’m excited for her, but I still worry about her. I’m fascinated that a pet that has the audacity to bark in my ear, when we’re lying on the couch together; leaves little surprises in the yard for me to step in; and constantly pesters and bothers me to give her snacks outside of the normal eating times has such a special place in my heart.

When I leave the house for any amount of time and finally come walking in the door, Nittany still manages to run circles around my legs, announcing my arrival. She gets herself in a tizzy waiting for me to sit down with her on a chair. She’ll then cuddle next to me as close as she can get and wills me with her eyes to rub her ears. She’ll keep on doing this until I finally break down and follow her directions. Yes, I have to question some times: who is the pet and who is the owner?

I love her, but I really don’t deserve her. None of the family does. She always finds a way to make us smile or feel good inside.

Despite that, she’s getting old and doesn’t get around like she once did. I can’t assume she’ll be here forever. When she passes away or crosses the proverbial Rainbow Bridge or whatever they call it, I’ll lose a trusted friend.

She saw us through the good and the bad. She helped see the kids through their teen years. When I was up late pacing the halls, worrying about one thing or another, she was right there with me. When the kids celebrated completing a difficult homework assignment or my wife and I decided we needed an impromptu ice cream sundae, she was excited for us too. Through it all, she brought us together as a family.

Yes, I know she’s not human. I know that she’s a family pet, but I find her more human than some people. She’s loyal and protective. She’s kind and caring. She doesn’t hold grudges. She’s joyful and loves freely without reservation.

Nittany wormed her way into our hearts and has never let go. When we come together to hug as a family, something we do when we’re altogether as a family, she’s right in the middle of the craziness. God forbid we fail to include her, she’ll brood until one of the kids notices her and lifts her up to celebrate in the middle of our hug. I can’t imagine her not being there.

So, Nittany, stay healthy, stay active, and here’s to another wonderful year. Enjoy your “Happy Birthday” bone!

And one more thing, I love you girl!

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