Puppy Love

By Susan L. Shone

My friend Blake told me he gave me my dog Magee because he was worried I was spending too much time talking to the green bell pepper plants. It is true I was talking to these four or five plants every day – and more than once a day, too.

In January of that year, I lost my dad. I watched him die of cancer and had been struggling with sadness and nightmares ever since. I lived alone, and when I planted my green peppers that May, I did treat them as a sounding board of sorts. I was very lonely.

Maybe Blake remembered that I adopted a puppy from an animal shelter about six months after my mother died. Maybe he figured if I had a dog to hug, it would help. Maybe he knew if he gave me a puppy, I’d have to house-train the puppy and care for her, and I couldn’t sit around feeling overwhelmed by settling my dad’s estate. I couldn’t pull the covers over my head and cry if I had to keep track of a little rascal.

In August, Blake told me he’d seen an ad for free puppies, and he was going to go out and look at them the next day. When he did, only one puppy was left. She was eight weeks old and had fleas and dried mud on her nose, and Blake was smitten. He took her home, named her Magee and gave her to me after a few days.

Now my days were more than sifting through the (usually incorrect) medical bills still coming in the mail and conversing with the green pepper plants. I chose a veterinarian and started house-training little Magee. I puppy-proofed the house; everything she could reach she tried to chew up.

I also learned that dogs can be social bridges. After living in the same neighborhood for years, I finally met and got to know many of my neighbors. Most people want to meet the puppies they see. In my case, I encouraged it even further, as part of Magee’s socialization. I asked everyone I saw every day on our walks if my puppy could meet them. Magee met people of all ages and races and both genders, and she learned to see every new person as a possible friend. Since Magee loves people and doesn’t fear them, I’ve never worried that she would bite somebody.

Until Magee was house-trained, I kept her behind a baby gate in the kitchen. I hated hearing her whine when I walked away from her at bedtime! But it was wonderful seeing her happy face first thing in the morning.

After Magee was house-trained, she had the run of the house. At first she would stretch and peek her head over the bed to look at me, and eventually she grew tall enough to get on the bed. I never discouraged her from sleeping on top of the bed. I liked having her there, I liked feeling less alone. I liked giggling at the funny sounds Magee made when she was dreaming, the little muffled yips and growls. I liked laughing on the rare occasions when Magee snored!

Magee was fun to train, and smart. She learned to come, sit and shake hands in one afternoon. In another afternoon, she learned to sit up. And she learned to run to the window and bark if I said the words “stranger danger.” She was my all-in-one security system, amusement park and best friend.

With Magee in the house, there are good noises. There’s the jingle of the dog tags on her collar when she shakes her head, and the happy click, click, clack of her toenails as she walks. There are the happy monkey noises she makes when she plays with her toys and the special bark she gives me when she’s after a dog biscuit or rawhide chew. And mostly there is the sound of her as she follows me everywhere I go in the house.

It is everything to me not to be alone. My friend Blake must have known that when he gave me the little puppy he loved so much that he slept on his kitchen floor with her so she wouldn’t be lonely or scared.

I tell people that I likely wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Magee.

I don’t remember the demise of those green bell pepper plants. I know they probably gave me lots of beautiful, sweet peppers, and that some autumn frost must have killed them off. But like I said, I don’t remember that. Once Magee came to live with me, I had a living being to talk to every day who would listen to everything I said while looking into my eyes. At 55 pounds, my half Boxer, half Labrador is big enough to hug, and the top of her head is extremely kissable.

Magee is eleven now, and on her birthday in June, she cleaned up. She got special food, special dog treats, a new toy and a vanilla birthday cake. If I could have spoiled her more, I would have. She deserves everything I can give her. She has put joy into every day I’ve lived with her these past eleven years.

She’s been a role model, too. She wakes up happy every day. She lives in the moment. She forgives easily and completely. She sees everybody as a potential new friend. I tell people I want to come back as a dog in my next life, but what I really want is to be more like Magee now.

About this writer

  • Susan L. Shone

    Susan L. Shone

    Susan L. Shone is a freelance writer and over-the-moon dog lover who lives in Virginia. She recommends sharing life with a dog to everyone.

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5 Responses to “Puppy Love”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Beautiful story of long lasting, puppy love.

  2. Joan Enright says:

    Hi,Susan: I so loved your story about finding and learning to love and care for Magee. And especially giving her a Forever Home. (I always want the dog or cat that nobody wants, too. They’re the best kind.) And also that your friend Blake slept on the floor with Magee. Your writing about her brought me to tears. You are a wonderful writer!

    Bye, and I hope to see you at work again.

    • Susan L. Shone says:

      Thank you, Joan, for your kind words. I know that you are a true animal lover, and I’m glad you enjoyed my essay about my sweet dog, Magee!

  3. Simply beautiful, Susan. The world would be better IF we trusted and loved one another like Magee.

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