You know what doesn’t simplify life?
Dogs. They are expensive. They are messy. They are time consuming.
And they bring immeasurable joy.
This week we said goodbye to our beloved family pet, an American Eskimo we got when she was just a puppy. To say she aged well is an understatement. She was a fluffy, pure white beauty with dark brown eyes. Her cotton-candy tail curled up over her trim 18-pound body. Her sweet face could melt your heart. She lived to be 17 and a half years old.
Like all of God’s creatures, she came to us with her own personality. The day my children and I brought her home, she fit in our cupped hands. She posed regally in the grass, one front leg draped over the other. She needed a name fit for royalty and was dubbed Princess Grace.
It took nearly two years to convince our princess she should use the bathroom outdoors. She was aghast, but finally accepted the situation. From then on, she was a well-mannered, elegant addition to our family.
American Eskimos are extremely intelligent, making them typical circus dogs. Grace learned to perform all kinds of tricks including prancing along the garden wall and jumping back and forth through a hula hoop.
By the time she was five, asking her to do tricks seemed as inappropriate as asking the Queen of England to sit, lie down, and roll over. She was a classy lady who had an air about her that demanded respect.
Grace did not suffer fools. She looked at other dogs with a raised eyebrow. She did not drool on people, jump on furniture, tear through the house, or bark unnecessarily. She enjoyed a restrained pat behind the ears and mature conversation. Loud children were to be avoided.
She was a pedigree with high standards, and she made everyone in our home want to be a better human. The bumper sticker that reads, “Be the person your dog thinks you are” couldn’t be more apt when it came to how we felt under Grace’s watchful eye.
Gracie was set in her ways, as any 119-year-old would be. You could set a watch by her meal times. Breakfast was served at 8 am, and dinner was at 5 pm sharp. If the help deviated from this schedule, she let them know.
Her favorite place was in the garden, where she often rested in the sun among the flowers. She looked so pretty with red and pink impatiens blooming all around her. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she rang for tea.
Every snowfall brought out the child in Grace. It was fitting that an American Eskimo would beg to go outside and stare straight up at the sky to catch snowflakes on her tongue. Rolling on the cold ground in delight, she disappeared against the white snow.
Gracie was a one-in-a-million girl, a dog who witnessed our family go through more than seventeen years of challenges, changes, and growing pains. Through it all, she remained a reliable friend and gentle spirit who simply made all of our lives more beautiful.
No, dogs don’t simplify life.
You will spend a small fortune at the veterinarian’s office. You will endlessly clean nose smudges off glass doors. You will constantly pick white hair off black clothes. You will cry your heart out when it’s time to say goodbye.
But every time you see a fluffy, dog-shaped cloud in the sky you’ll be reminded of the unconditional love and pure happiness your furry friend gave you.