A little puppy girl with reasons
Picture this: A vision in vibrant black and white, elegant yet sporty, sometimes cantering, now and then straining to reach that special smell, gracefully, winsomely engaging the world as she finds it: fresh grass, musky shrubs, birds darting and chirping, squirrels scampering about, people walking and talking. A woman sitting on a bench watching her. Holly, the Boston, approaches, looks inquisitively at her, demurely places her front paws on the bench to say hello up close and personal. “What a beautiful animal,” the woman exclaims. A little later, Holly waiting patiently for some of her family to return, is literally at the end of her tether: you see, she is within a couple yards of a café door-she has placed herself as close as possible to the stream of diners, wanting to meet everyone or at least evoke a spoken greeting, which her wisp of a tail sweetly acknowledges. Today she has her reasons.
She always had them; we were often too limited in our understanding to figure them out and can only pray we were never neglectful through our inability to understand her special language.
Once when we rushed her to the vet for acupuncture because she seemed limp and unresponsive and suffered from a cervical slipped disk he had been helping her with, we expected her to hide under our chairs as she did for months after the vet accidentally pinched her with a needle. This day, as Dr. Goldberg entered, Holly-hunched a bit and head down a little no doubt from pain-ran to greet him. She was asking for help unmistakably.
When she did some business in a dog walk, she ostentatiously kicked up the grasses till they’d fly through the air, one leg then the other lofting up, up- as high as her head, frequently stomping her front feet in synch and often snorting a bit for good measure- eyes bulging. Holly was an alpha girl, and her mark was it- the last word for that spot.
From the time she was a very small pup, she enjoyed a family who was always available for amusement and companionship. Her retirement community was only too happy to greet its smallest, most charming and lovable new member. But people who threatened her- such as one who seemed to kick at her, however unknowingly, she always remembered. And she ever after barked, even growled them for what must have seemed to her their callousness. Let people come to her house and do right by Holly’s lights, and she was forever their friend.
Take the bug man. Holly saw something in him we couldn’t, and she just loved him to death-all parts in motion to plant those kisses-love at 1000 RPMs. When he had to move on, she could scarcely bare letting him go. We had no doubt she’d follow him to his next stop if given the chance.
Her dad she barked at for years- this from a dog who otherwise never barked except if a stranger approached as she lounged on her favorite porch. She wanted to play and he couldn’t or wouldn’t, so she’d bark over and over, “Play with me, play with me.” Her mom she rarely barked at because Mom played more to her delight. And what did Holly like to play? Holly loved latex toys- what was wrong with vinyl or stuffed ones? No pop-out squeaks, that's what.
Still very young, she learned to remove squeakers, and because we got so excited about the potential dangers of this new trick, concluded this was great fun. And the latex she could best flex in her little mouth and pop the squeaks. A tease, she would often scoop up the squeaks and torment her playmate, who feared of course she would swallow the squeakers whole or in shards. Another Hollyesque play routine was catch, most often with one of the little red rubber balls she craved since puppyhood. Holly wasn’t much for the old toss and fetch-she might run for the ball, but then she would want her playmate to toss the ball for her to bounce off her snoot or open mouth or catch in her mouth and toss back.
Someone wisely remarked of Holly she’d never seen a dog who looked so much like she had something to say. Not infrequently, she seemed to be forming words under her breath or in a half-cry. Following one or another semi-remark from Holly, we often speculated about the day we might finally learn what had been on her mind, reflected in various looks on her face, all the years we had the privilege of living with her. Once in a while, it was crystal clear Holly’s reason.
When she had her front nails clipped, she would melodramatically turn her head as far as she could stretch and close her big browns - her quick had been nipped once when she was little so she had her reason and she never forgot. Once Mom had moved on to back nails, she instantly came out of her feint.
Vets at the vet school remarked how young she looked and acted when she was all but 14. With very little vision the last few months, her face would light up-mouth in a happy crease, eyes wide and bright, ears perked-at the sound of a blown up brown bag containing a favorite treat rattled for her amusement and play. As late as September, she’d tease her toys, hop to get her cube spinning, even playbow now and then. Our brave, fun-loving little puppy girl to the end. Months later, the chicken breast cooked and chopped waits for her in the freezer. Losing Holly is simply too much to bear, so we dream of our reunion.
Photos by Gene
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Last updated March 18, 2002