Christmas is big in our house, not news. The whole house gets turned upside down with decorations. Parties, celebrations, and general merriment happen almost daily. Vast amounts of good smelling foods are constantly being cooked. Delivery people are coming to the door, sometimes two or three at a time. Wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and especially tissue paper are plentiful. All these are things that Shay Shay, our beloved labradoodle loves. Christmas is her favorite time of year.
Today my friend Lynn, affectionately called Baby Chick in our house and I had a few friends over for a little lunch and Shay was sure the whole do was just for her. She would stand at the glass door staring out as friends, some new; some unfamiliar came to her door certainly to see her she thought. Festive in her big red bow she would stand on her hind legs and greet each guest.
Certain that she was the center of everyone’s attention she circled the table as people enjoyed their lunch, pausing by the person who laughed the loudest anticipating some food might fall from their mouth, but none did.
Shay is fairly well behaved, but she can show some frustration if none of these humans who came just to rub her belly were doing their job. At one point as Shay was demanding attention I told her, “Go jump in Baby Chick’s lap.” Shay turned from me and scanned the room and made a beeline for Lynn, bounding in an unladylike way on to her. Lynn and Shay are fast friends and Shay never misses an opportunity to exploit Lynn’s weakness for a furry lovey.
Although there were plenty of unattended plates of cake sitting right at Shay’s nose she waited to take a nibble until all the guests had left the room and then only had one small taste. She was greatly disappointed it was not a liver cake.
Shay politely waited until all the guests had gone before she took some tissue paper and ripped it into tiny shreds, as is her favorite pastime. When the house was empty she despondently lay by the Christmas tree surveying wondering when the next party would start. Like a small child on Christmas morning after all the presents have been unwrapped, Shay was a little let down.
But the party is not over yet. It is just the beginning of the whole holiday season. More cooking and wrapping, more friends will arrive, the festivities continue and as far as Shay thinks we are doing this all for her. After all she is the baby of the house and isn’t Christmas more magical when seen through the eyes of a child or at least a very cute dog?
One of the blessings of living where we do is that my parents live exactly one hour away at Hom-a-gen, the farm that has been in our family for, well forever. Hom-a-gen was one of the reasons we moved to Durham in the first place. When Russ was looking at business schools twenty years ago being close to the farm was a real draw, especially for Russ and now for Shay-Shay. See having acre upon acre to run free is paradise for a dog that lives on a leash in her home neighborhood.
Carter is studying for exams but Russ finally felt like he had gotten ahead of his work so he and I made a quick trip to the farm after church. My parents were free to join us for lunch at my father’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Danville, El Vallarta. My father is such a regular there that even though the place was full of people waiting to be seated he just walked right in and went to his special corner in the back and magically his regular table was sitting empty as if it were permanently reserved for him.
The wait staff greets him as the big tipper he is and brings the beer my father is known to order. No one asked why we did not have menus as all the people who were seated by the hostess did. No one questioned us seating our self or skipping the line. My father is clearly a charter member of the el Vallarta club.
After lunch we went back to the farm to run, walk and throw the tennis balls to Shay, which was the real purpose for going there. Shay loves to run after a tennis ball as fast as she can. She is also fairly good at catching it in mid air, but bringing back to you is not her thing. She usually will pick it up and carry it to her self-determined home base. This means Russ or I have to walk to were she drops the ball. We usually play with at least two balls at a time with her so that at one time one of us is retrieving and one is throwing. You would think that the labradoodle should be the retriever, but that is not the case.
After the throwing and catching session Russ and I walked down to the big lower pond led by Shay. She knows every inch of the place and only stops to look back to make sure we are following her every once in a while. I swear she is smiling as she walks. If she had a cartoon bubble above her head showing what she is thinking it would be one simple sentence over and over again, “I love the farm. I love the farm. I love the farm.”
After circling the pond, surveying the schools of new baby fish and enjoying the perfect sunshine we walk up the hill to go sit with my Dad outside the office barn. With Shay trotting ahead on the dirt farm road I look over at Russ and I think I see the cartoon bubble above his head, “I love the farm. I love the farm. I love the farm.”
A man and his dog in pure nirvana.
Today I went to Dr. Joe Moylan’s funeral. He was a great man, loved by many and will be missed by all. Although he lived a totally full life with a loving wife, six children, twenty grandchildren, fulfilling career as a Doctor, great educator and founder of the Durham Nativity School he left the world too soon.
I came home from the service and was truly sad about the huge loss to his family and the greater community at large. As I sat down to change out of my church clothes our sweet dog Shay Shay jumped up on the bed beside me and sensing my sadness snuggled up to me and rested her curly brown head on my shoulder tucking her nose under my chin. It was just the comfort I needed at that moment.
As I was rubbing her belly in her favorite way to be thanked I remembered that today was her second birthday. It is hard for me to imagine our family without our loving four-legged member. She makes everyday a joy, except when she chews up my reading glasses.
She can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Fly through the air.
Not just catch a ball, but throw one as well.
But mostly she can love us. Now she loves Russ the most, but who can blame her.
Happy birthday Shay Shay.