Saturday, March 04, 2006
Sometimes a pet enters your life that is more than just a pet.
I bought Kelty for my three children when they were eight, six, and four years old. They are now nearly 26 and 24 (at the end of the month) and 22 (in July). They literally cannot remember a time in their lives when this puppy (because she believed she was a puppy right to the end) was not there.
Kelty was a pure-bred but non-standard Shetland Sheepdog, or "Shelty." Pure-bred but non-standard means expensive but worthless. But I didn't get Kelty to show her or breed her (although I always did want her to have one litter before being spayed), I got her to be my children's dog. And she was worth her weight in joy, and more.
Kelty was the perfect kid's dog. She would run, jump, and play with them. Bred with the herding instinct, she would circle groups of kids running and playing, nudging them to stay in one place. Kids wrestled with her. I don't know if she loved or hated rough-housing, but I never saw her lose patience with either child or adult.
She was the smartest dog I've ever known. I trained her to do so many tricks. Once, when she was already quite old (12-13?), in response to a rhetorical challenge ("you can't teach an old dog new tricks"), I taught her how to close the door. On command, she would get on her hind legs and push the door with her forepaws. She could do anything.
From the time I got Kelty until my first marriage ended, she was a source of constant joy to me. I loved watching my children play with her, nap with her, brush her, love her (everything but walk and clean up after her). But the joy was also personal. Kelty was, in a very real way, my dog. There were times (you know?) when you just needed someone to sit with you, to be next to you, to be genuinely excited when you walked in the door. I could always depend on Kelty. And I imagine now lying on the floor with her rubbing her back and behind her ears until one or both of us fell asleep.
To my grown-up kids, because I know that these thoughts still pass through your heads: Yes, there is a heaven for puppies. And yes, Kelty is there.