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Happiness is a Warm Puppy

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Happiness is a Warm Puppy

My granddaughter Billie decided we needed a puppy. She had put a lot of thought in it. When I saw Billie dragging a stuffed animal around with a shoestring, calling it her puppy, I knew the time was near. I was pretty sure we shouldn’t wait much longer when she began holding a Kleenex to her shoulder, cuddling and patting it, calling it a good puppy. So when she said, “Yaya, I want a puppy made out of real fur,” I couldn’t wait any more. Stacey and I went online to the Sandpoint Animal Shelter, to view the dogs they have for adoption there. 

I can say with certainty it’s a good thing I don’t own property, or I’m pretty sure I would be one dog away from owning a whole pack! There were at least 20 dogs that could have easily become mine. I personally fell in love with a senior dog called Lady. A beautiful red tick coon hound with soulful eyes, she made me want to weep. Who would adopt such an old dog? I wondered. Luckily, the Animal Shelter has a program that helps with the senior dogs, so they can live out their lives in safety. 

There was a younger dog named Banjo, totally cute! But, as my son-in-law is named Banjo, it would have just been too weird. Several dogs called to me, but I knew Billie had her heart set on a puppy, so we walked the halls (saying hello to every dog along the way) to the puppy nursery to look at the last two pups there. Two of the cutest Blue heeler-mix pups were available to adopt. As always, they were both neutered, shots up to date, clean, cute and as playful as Billie is. I could only take one home. That was a tough decision, fate sometimes makes choices for us: the puppy named Magellan sat on my foot. That’s how I chose my dog Aspen, so obviously Magellan it was. 

We already knew Magellan’s name would be changed. Billie already picked the name “Sparkles.” Given “Sparkles” was a male, we tried to get her to change it to Sparky, but she would have none of that. Not only was our poor male pup going to be a “Sparkles, he would be saddled with pink sweaters, scarves and coats. I wondered if I could find a breast cancer pink sweater that says, “Real dogs wear pink!” Stacey was dismayed at the thought of calling to the pup, “Here Sparkles, good boy!” 

As possibly the only cross-dressing puppy in northern Idaho, he is still quite the catch and his name has grown on us. Billie is in love with him, but I have to say, as of yet, Aspen is not too impressed. For the first few days Aspen’s lips were curled in a permanent snarl, and she wasn’t necessarily snarling at Sparkles. She didn’t take to kindly to having a young whipper snapper encroaching on her territory. Aspen hasn’t outright ignored him, but she has spent a bit of time under the bed, where Sparkles hasn’t located her yet. It’s her quiet time, a doggy version of “Calgon, take me away!” 

Aspen is getting older, you know. She hasn’t played puppy games in years, until Banjo tried to play with Sparkles, that is, when suddenly Aspen was the bouncy, airborne fluff she had been in her youth! Growling playfully, she was a canine ninja trying to snatch the rope out of Banjo’s hand. That is, until she realized Banjo was serious and wanted to rough house for a WHILE. Aspen yelped, and every frisky bone in her body bolted for her safe haven. Trying to prove she was in her prime, or maybe her second puppyhood, she recalled her age with a, “Sweet Jesus, play with the real puppy”! 

Now Sparkles is practically attached to Aspen’s behind. Heaven forbid Aspen listen to nature’s call in peace. We’ve learned to let Aspen out alone, just so she can take care of business in relative tranquility. 

Billie didn’t really understand Aspen’s attitude towards Sparkles. “Sparkles is nice,” Billie lectured Aspen, shaking her finger in Aspen’s face with all the animation only a five-year-old can muster. “She doesn’t know what no bite means yet.” Then Sparkles mistook Billie’s leg for a toy. An unintentional nip can go a long way toward understanding the need for proper training. 

Aspen has learned to hide beside (okay, behind) my chair, a sissy dog’s way of hiding behind mama’s skirt. (Although I have felt Sparkles’ sharp little teeth, and I kinda want to hide too!) We have only lost one power cord so far and half a shoe tongue. And Brad quickly learned to hide “them,” or put a cup on them, if you know what I mean. That’s not too bad for a new puppy. We did buy Sparkles his own toys, which he promptly ate. That’s when the joking about the cup for Brad became a grave reality. No man likes to think of his family jewels being mauled by little shark teeth. 

When Brad brings in wood for the stove, Sparkles tries to help in his own way by chewing up the wood. Creating kindling, I’m sure. My floor has to be vacuumed every day, just to get rid of the dead toy pieces. His favorite toy so far? An empty soda bottle! It figures, I spent good money on toys for my kids only to find they were most content with the box the toy came in. 

At night, we have a baby gate to keep that little ball of perpetual motion contained. He has already learned that morning doesn’t begin until there is light coming through the windows. There’s a lot of energy in a puppy. If I could harness it, between Billie and Sparkles I could power our whole house with the force they produce!  

It’s worth all the time put into training Sparkles though, just to see Billie’s little eyes light up every time she comes over. Sparkle’s has learned the sound of Banjo’s truck and he will sit by the door, wiggling impatiently. As Billie tries to come in the door, Sparkles licks her energetically (as if they hadn’t just seen each other a few hours ago), practically knocking Billie back out the door. I don’t know if they’re soul mates, but it’s definitely puppy love. When Billie enters the house, it’s a wild puppy party of colossal proportions. We try to keep Billie’s giggles down to a dull roar, so the neighbors don’t complain, but it’s not always possible. Watching the two of them running from one end of the house to the other, cackling hysterically, keeps a person’s soul smiling! 

Luckily for Billie, Sparkles has a two-man bed, courtesy of my parents’ sweet Lab, Precious. I don’t think Precious ever found the bed as comfortable and Billie and Sparkles do. Aspen used to sleep on it, but when Sparkles tried to cuddle with her, Aspen vacated the area. No squirming puppy butt for her! Since that day, Aspen has left it to Sparkles. After an impressive evening of romping, watching Billie curl up around Sparkles’ weary little body is quite the happy moment, not just because it means a certain amount of quiet for me, but because I know both of their little hearts are content. 

I know we’ll have many more years of adventures with Billie and Sparkles. Last night, just before bedtime, Billie and Sparkles were cuddling on the doggy bed. “ You sleep now, Sparkles,” Billie whispered  in his soft puppy ear, “I’m your mommie now and you are the best of the best.” In little girl/puppy communication, that is a commitment!

Jinx Beshears has lots of grandkids, and a growing pack of dogs. You can reach her at [email protected]

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Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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grandchildren, pets, Jinxed, happiness, puppies, Billie

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