Learning to See Beauty

All I need is love. Love is all I need.

She is a stray if there ever was one. My daughter, A, found her in the middle of a country road, disoriented and lost. I knew I was in trouble when the door banged shut and I heard a, “Mommmm, I couldn’t resist.”

At first I reacted with annoyance. I had just lost a beloved stray that we adopted and embraced before the road beckoned with its call to freedom. Duke was a nomad after all.  Perhaps the coddling we gave him didn’t leave enough to his free spirit. In any case, our family’s hearts still hurt. Now here was another interloper, one who could threaten the status quo of the pack by her mere presence.

A stood in front of me with a black puppy, the kind that could be any dog. Nothing distinctive, nothing really remarkable about her except for her gentle eyes that looked down as if to say, “I am not any trouble. I just need a home.” The puppy tucked her head under A’s neck, burrowing for kindness and affection. I melted.

A promptly gave her a bath, and remarkably, there were no fleas or ticks infesting her small body. She seemed quite healthy, and I wondered if her tummy were distended from parasites or disease. A offered to run to the store and fetch some puppy food.  She also volunteered to watch her after school and at night. I couldn’t say no.

What about my new wool rugs? I was just now free of accidents and able to warm the wooden floors under our feet. I brushed my worries aside.

“I’ll find her a home. I promise. Every day after school I’ll knock on doors around the place where I found her.” A nuzzled the puppy’s head and showed me a newly formed bond that I could not discount. I recognized that this puppy was no prize of breed. Was it a squirrel dog? A heeler? Some combination of the two? It probably belonged to a family with little means and littler sense, who raised mutts with every heat cycle. Our county has no spay and neuter laws. I believe there is a leash law on the books, but in rural areas, these laws are moot.

“You must do this, A. I just turned down Pets are Worth Saving to foster a brown and speckled puppy I really wanted. I said no because I am not up for housebreaking another dog right now. The timing is just not right.”

A said she understood. To be fair to her, she did try faithfully to find the owner. She knocked on almost every door on the short road where she found the puppy. Some people I called asking, “Did you lose a pet?” and then the follow up “Do you want one?”

For two nights A slept with the puppy wrapped around her neck. Last night was my turn. She cuddled and sighed, tickling my neck with her broken-off whiskers. The others in the bed glared indignantly, crossing over to the far side of the bed to tuck under my husband’s legs. I was obviously a traitor, giving my arms to a stranger, and a mutt at that.

I took her to the animal shelter and saw the wonderful accomplishments of its animal control officer. He assured me he would take care of her and try to find her a home. He said he would not euthanize her. As I stood with the energetic yapping dogs in the pens, my 11 to 13 week old puppy rested against my chest, limp, just as she had done with A. Even before I took her she lay at my feet and looked up at me, just content to be near. I realized then I would probably not be able to let her go. Standing there, I could not imagine her terror at having to deal with so many animals. Some might have been eager to play with her; some might have challenged her and pushed her out. They seemed rough, street hardened. She was just a baby.

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This is Duke. The author still cannot look at this photo without feeling a deep sadness.

She is not what I wanted. She is black; I wanted my next dog to be large and spotted. Perhaps a bird dog like those my uncle had raised. Setters intrigue me, and since we now have land, I am getting pretty close to thinking I can raise a big dog for the farm. Duke can be credited for opening my heart and mind to a large stray, albeit speckled brown and white.

New girl on the farm

She is not what I would ever pick from the pound or shelter or PAWS adoption. Some aesthetics are inherent; some learned. We all have our likes and dislikes, the things we want to feast our eyes upon every day and never tire of (like my husband).  I believe most people choose a canine aesthetic just as they choose a mate. How many pug lovers ever settle for poodles, for example?

See me. I am beautiful in my own way.

As I turn fifty, I am learning to see beauty in the inner self of beings more than I ever imagined. This puppy is a simple black dog, probably with short, wiry hair that emerges as her fuzzy puppy fur sheds. She has an abnormally small head compared to large brown paws. Yet her tail whips and wags when she sees me. She waits as I write on the rug below the bed on my side as if to say, “I know you will take care of me.” Mostly, she is gentleness and love, and she represents beauty that I would have ignored as late as a few months ago when lonely animals entered my life.

Her name will be announced soon. Since she looks like a boy, I refer to her as “he.”  The girls are not amused.  Even the pink scarf I tied around her neck doesn’t fix this slip of the tongue.  Soon, she will have a girlie name, a proud name, and one that says she belongs forever.

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The author, Lulu, & Jill and Lynn Schmauder, Lulu’s new sis & mommy.

Update:  My dear friend and soul sister wanted this puppy, so Kerry and I drove her to Virginia, meeting Lynn half way.  We named her Lulu together.  She is now a city dog and is beloved by her new family.  I still miss her though.

Nothing sweeter than puppy loving with the sun on our faces
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4 Comments

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  1. 3
    Hugh McCormack

    My friend Rhonda K Hill named her first born son after her recently deceased mother. Rhonda is Georgia born and her mom’s name is Willamina; her son (whom I adore) is named Will and/or William.

    Rhonda knocked off two birds with that choice. Will’s paternal grandfather is William “Bill” Nolan. Will’s dad Tim was my best friend and shipmate from our college years.

    Good luck; can’t wait to hear what you come up with.

    Hugh

    • 4
      Emily

      I wanted to call her Lucy. My husband liked Zuzu. Our youngest daughter who found her said to combine the two. So, I guess she’s Lulu. It must be a girl name or else I won’t be able to stop saying “he.” My son-in-law’s name is Will (short for William). It’s my favorite name. Glad you stopped by my website. Hope you check out the political blogs soon. I may end up having to take them down once I get my book published.

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