Joe and I have lovingly cared for several four-legged children; the last being two huge Old English Sheepdogs named Ditto and Daniece.
Ditto was the brother of Daniece’s mother and true to form in any family tree, Daniece was his niece. Thus her name.
We loved them fiercely and when they died there was a great gaping void in our lives. Yet we were reluctant to fill that vacancy. Losing them was far too painful to undergo again with another dog and, as we travel often, the concern about caring for them was great.
I, however, have not yet ceased hounding (pun intended) Joe for another pooch companion but he has been (almost) convincing in his resolve to not adopt another.
So, I content myself with my numerous stuffed animals and the recognition that Joe is absolutely correct. When it is cold in the winter, raining in the spring, ghastly hot in mid-summer I know I would not like to be walking a dog in the elements. And when we travel it is, I admit, nice to not worry about finding a pet sitter. We can pick up and go whenever we want without having to plan for a dog’s care.
Recently, while spending some time in our vacation home in Vermont, our daughter, Donna, came for a visit and she and I went shopping at some of the more fun boutiques in a neighboring town.
During that jaunt she found, purchased and approached me with the most adorable little bear doll. Only a foot tall, dressed in matching winter hat and jacket, long nose thrust forward helping to create a doleful expression, he grabbed at my heart. And I excitedly brought him back to the house with us to sit at the kitchen table. I assumed that is where he’d remain to greet us every time we went back up to Vermont.
But, two days later after packing the car for our trip back home, with Joe waiting for me in the passenger seat, I peeked into the kitchen and saw my little bear sitting at the table. He definitely wanted to come back to Connecticut with us. There was no doubt. And, so, I grabbed him, and tossed him in Joe’s lap as I got into the car.
“Please take care of the bear on the ride home. He really wants to come with us.”
I half expected a shrug, a reluctant acceptance, and nothing more.
What I did not expect was to glance at Joe from time to time and see him smiling tenderly at the bear. There was most definitely a bond forming.
Once home, I positioned him (the bear, not Joe) in the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter and, during dinner later that evening, caught Joe gazing at the bear, pointing to him, smiling and acknowledging his presence in our home.
Something was beginning to happen here. And it was something I had not expected, for, while Joe is a gentle and compassionate man, he had never reacted to an inanimate object like that before: certainly not a stuffed animal.
Eventually the bear found its way into the basket on Joe’s walker and Joe, now true to form, would greet it (the bear, not the walker) with a smile and pat on its head.
One day I’d removed the bear from Joe’s walker basket as it was near the shower while Joe was washing and I didn’t want to have it get wet. This was disturbing to Joe for, when he got out of the shower, he immediately noticed his newfound pal missing and asked where his buddy was.
Ah, so now it had a name: Buddy.
Buddy has since been moved to our bed, as Joe no longer needs the walker. And Buddy was even devious enough to find his way into our luggage when we went to Anna Maria Island last month. He appeared under the covers and, when Joe discovered him, his pleasure was unmistakable.
All week long Buddy kept us company – although we did not allow him to come with us to the beach. But being the patient guy he is, he waited in the cottage for our return and Joe’s hearty, “Hey Buddy. How you doing?”
Here’s the thing; this caught me totally off-guard. I’d never had one of my stuffed animals hijacked before. Never has Joe wanted to adopt any of the group – no matter how cute and cuddly they might be.
But there is something in Buddy that speaks to Joe. And there is a new – or perhaps enhanced – quality in Joe that is listening to whatever it is Buddy is saying to him.
As I have stated in the past, I am so grateful to the powers that be that brought Joe back to me from his dire medical situation.
And I am so very thankful to Buddy for allowing my strong, self-assured husband to allow a softer side to surface so openly.
I’m just sitting back, taking it all in, and marveling at Joe and Buddy and what their friendship has brought them both.