I’ve got a soft spot for pooches

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2011

There is just something about dogs that touch a soft spot in my heart.

A neighbor’s dog wandered into my yard one morning last week when I went outside to get the newspaper. When I greeted it with a cheery “good morning,” it wagged its long tail and loped over to me. Its low-slung body, similar to a dachshund’s, but much thicker, was clad in a black sweater. Dead grass clippings clung to the sweater, no doubt from a roll in the yard during its wanderings. After I gave it a couple of pats on the head, it leaped up and placed its front paws on my leg. It followed me to my door. “Goodbye, see you later,” I said, as I shut the door. When I glanced out the window, it was jogging happily along, nose down, heading across the street.

I laughed and thought about what author Christopher Morley said: “No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.” Our conversation was brief, but the dog in the sweater and I had enjoyed each other immensely. It put a smile on my face and a wag in the dog’s tail. We were off to a good start for the day.

Inside the house, my “grand dog Minnie” (owned by my daughter and son-in-law) was still asleep, buried under the covers in the bed. When I opened the bedroom door, the little black and rust Min-pin stirred, dug a tunnel through the covers, and poked her head out. As those little pointy ears on her black head popped up, it made me think of a bat for a second. When I greeted her, she emerged from her covers, stretched, and wagged her short tail. She doesn’t swipe your face with kisses. She shows her delight in your attention by wiggling and racing back and forth. Someone said, “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” Minnie is no puppy and she doesn’t lick your face, but there’s no doubt she appreciates your attention when she wiggles all over.

Sometimes I take a tray of food to the living room to enjoy while I watch television. Minnie is familiar with this practice; she often races into the living room close to my recliner to await my arrival. Occasionally, she hops in the recliner and makes herself comfortable before I get there. Early on, I made a mistake by giving her a few tid-bits. Now if I don’t offer it, she reaches out and touches me on the leg with her paw. That means “It’s time to give me a bite.”

When I got a new recliner, Minnie sat and studied it for a while. She looked from that new chair to my daughter several times. Then she made her move. Minnie was the first to test the recliner. I laughed. Minnie knows how to touch the soft spot in my heart for dogs.