No small gift

Happy dog in Eastham, Massachusetts. by John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons

Happy dog in Eastham, Massachusetts, by John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born.”Mary Oliver

My life is not yet ready to adopt another dog into our home, but that does not prevent me from enjoying every encounter, however brief, with these delightful creatures. For me, dogs are therapeutic, providing instant joy. I am so grateful they are part of our world. Please give my personal thanks to the next one you see.


  1. Sam and Max are sending you wags and licks

    • Thank you! I’m sending them giant cyber-hugs and imaginary aromas.

  2. Ann

    Thanks for the dog posting, you know l’m a dog person. When, not if, you are ready for anew canine companion, consider a rescue dog. We have had four purebreds from breeders followed by three rescue dogs. We are picking up two more on Wednesday! We have had good luck with ones who have been in a foster home, they are housetrained and will know some basic commands. The ones we choose are usually about 18 months old but they are available in all ages and sizes. I couldn’t figure out how to post a picture of our ne friends so I am going to try to put one on your Facebook page.

    • Ann, I STILL cannot figure out how to embed a photo into a comment, but I’m going to try inserting links here and here so everyone can see your precious new family members! Thanks for sharing them. I’m torn between wanting a rescue dog, wanting a Schipperke, and wanting a Shiba Inu. Of course I could always try to adopt a rescue Schip or Shiba, but the new puppies are SOOOO adorable!

    • Sweet! I love the great pics from Julia’s posted links.

  3. Good morning, Julia!
    There’s a dog that lives down the hall from me, here in Marlborough, Mass. I’ve not yet meet the dog, but I know he’s there, based on all the commotion he makes whenever I leave my apartment. I tried to envision this encounter, if I were to run into him and his owner in the hall: … I’d be shouting (from a safe distance, as his owner strains against the leash), “Hello! On behalf of Julia, I’d like to thank you for being a dog!” I would hope that I hadn’t sounded too awkward, or made his owner too nervous ….
    The I imagined just driving out to Eastman to greet the dog of the photo. Eastman is about two hours away, out on Cape Cod . According to whitepages, there doesn’t appear to be a John Phalen actually in Eastman, but there may be three or four of them within 25 miles of Eastman. At any rate, it looks to be a lovely weekend destination – perhaps I should look for a B&B out that way!
    Then I hit on a relatively good idea: maybe there’s a local animal shelter or dog rescue organization. Perhaps I’d be allowed to go in and thank their dogs! That could be a win-win for everyone.
    Otherwise, I’ll just have to send a thank you card to Gus, who lives next door to me in Minnesota. πŸ™‚

    • Susan, this really made me smile. Yes, it really might make someone edgy if you didn’t explain, and even more edgy if you did, hee-hee. Regarding John Phalen, I am guessing that wasn’t his dog. I base this supposition on the number of times I have photographed other people’s dogs — total strangers to me — sitting inside their cars looking irresistably cute. So looking for this particular pooch might truly be a needle-in-a-haystack activity. Still, it’s fun to think about it. And the shelter is a great idea. Maybe we should start a Shelter Dog-and-Staff Appreciation Day, where we go in and shower them with human and canine treats, and lots of thanks and maybe even some volunteer labor. I’ve often thought that having a doggie time-share arrangement for people in circumstances like mine would be a good idea…

      • Great ideas! If you start a doggie and shelter appreciation day, let me know, and I’m IN!

        • I’ll certainly let you know…but don’t hold your breath. You don’t want to know how many as-yet-unrealized goals and plans and ideas cross my mind. But I do think there are many of us who appreciate the wonderful work done by foster families and shelters everywhere.

  4. Amy Hill

    Wrecker says “Good morning, Julia. I miss you. Come see me and bring ice and/or snacks. No one here ever feeds me.”

    On Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 5:03 AM, Defeat Despair wrote:

    > Julia posted: ” “Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It > is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as > love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs > not yet born.” — Mary Oliver My life is ” >

    • Aww, Wrecker, thanks for posting. REALLY, no one ever feeds you? You look remarkably well for an unfed dog. Guess what. Did you know that Pasha used to tell people that nobody fed him? Yep, he would always try to convince either Jeff or me that he had not been fed yet, when one of us got home later than usual. We fell for it a couple of times until we compared notes and figured out what was going on. But that didn’t stop him from trying to beg food of whoever came by. I’m sure you would never do such a thing… πŸ˜€

      • Amy

        I never pull tricks like that on my people. I can’t help it if they are gullible can I? Amy thinks I am getting a bit chubby. Happens with age and inactivity I guess. That is probably why you haven’t been able to tell how underfed I am. Thanks for the reply. I do hope to see you soon but I heard Matt is coming for a few days so that will give me some puzzle pieces to hide. πŸ™‚

        • Wrecker, I knew you were too sweet to pull anything like that. One look at your innocent face tells me all I need to know. ❀

  5. Amy

    Wrecker sent you a comment as a reply to Defeat Despair. He couldn’t figure out how to do it here. Maybe you can add it here so others can see him. I love you. Hope you have a great day and get some doggy loving.

    • Thank you Amy, I loved the note from Wrecker. I could almost see fuzzy golden doggie hairs wafting up through the computer screen. πŸ˜€

      • Amy

        Yes well that might be from him using my computer or it could be a lack of the vacuum doing it’s job. I really need to get the roomba. We don’t have dust bunnies, they are more like dust horses. AND this beautiful weather shines light in the house and the dust REALLY shows up well. I try not to disturb it that way no one knows. I will try to run the vacuum before Matt comes. Next time I come up I will bring Wreck and we will go for a walk. Take care of you.

        • No, those are VIRTUAL pet hairs, no vacuum needed! They exist in the imaginary world where doggies come with no inconvenience whatsoever. You don’t have to worry about running the vacuum before Matt comes because none of us have problems with dust or allergies, for which I’ve always been thankful, though it has made me lazy. Do bring W up for a visit. I think it is supposed to be fairly warm one or two days this week and we could play outside. We could even walk down to the pond and take a stroll around it.

  6. Raynard

    Good day to you Julia. Just enjoying a day off and catching up on chores then a nap.. Wife is getting ready to go to work in a few. Last week new doctor cleared her to return to full duty. She still has to have the rotor cuff surgery on her shoulder..did you get the picture of the Valentin’s cake I baked ? Our two dogs are fine but Ella’s dog isn’t doing so well. I recused myself from any decisions concerning her. Have no emotional attachment to her just being honest. A family reunion is in the planning stages for the first weekend in August. When they reserve the spot at a state park 40 miles outside NYC then I will plan my menu lol.As for your comment well,no comment necessary,Nuff said..Be blessed

    • I’m glad to hear that Mary is getting better. I am sorry that Ella’s dog isn’t well – I’m sure she misses her, poor thing. It’s so sad for a dog or other animal when their “human mama or daddy” dies before they do. I am glad Pasha is not having to deal with missing Jeff. It used to make me feel so sorry for him when Jeff would be out of town and he would sit and watch the door for Jeff every night for hours. Hey I have been trying to send you an ecard for many days now – it featured a cake that looked a lot like your Valentine Cake! I couldn’t get the computer to send it, though, even after trying several times. Oh well, I enjoyed seeing the photo of yours. Hope you are having a good week. Give Mary a hug for me.

  7. Jack

    A nice reminder of my very young son’s comment when we were mourning the loss of a well loved Cavalier Spaniel. Said maybe 7 year old John, “Dad, we need to get another dog…we’re a much nicer family with a dog.”

    We’ve not been without two since. Maybe it’s time for you too Julia!?

    • I do think dogs make us nicer, which may mean it is past time for me to get another one, at least in that sense. But I am too exhausted right now to even take proper care of myself or Matt, so it may be awhile yet. Still, I do look forward to the hope that SOMEDAY everything will get at least a bit easier…

  8. I rescued a dog from a busy intersection about a week ago, and I regularly walk with a friend and her dog. They’re remarkable creatures and a gift to us all.

    • Oh, WOW, Alys, mad props to you for a VERY timely rescue! I can’t stand to see even a lizard or turtle in the road, worrying about them getting hit. When Pasha got out without our knowing about it and got lost exploring a couple of years before he died, a very kind person driving by rescued him just as he was nearing a very busy highway. He took him to a vet who read his microchip and then called us and brought him back right away, but I shudder to think what might have happened if someone had not done what you did. I hope the dog you found was able to be reunited with a family, or at least found a new caretaker. I’m glad to know you go dog-walking with your neighbor, too. It’s fun to notice what they notice. Hope you are having a wonderful week!

      • Julia, I’m so happy Pasha made it back home. What a terrible worry. The dog and the owner were reunited, but it was a bit of a slog. I took the dog to a vet but he had no tags or microchip. He lunged at a smaller dog while we were there so they told me to take him to a shelter. I did that, after feeding him in my back seat, but was able to track down the owner through a post on our NextDoor community board. Hopefully he’s now chipped the dog so if he gets out again, things will play out differently.

        • I was amazed how painless and inexpensive it was to get Pasha chipped. I was afraid it would hurt terribly, but the vet predicted– correctly, it turned out– that he would not even flinch despite the relatively huge needle. It had to do with where they put it and how they delivered the shot, I guess. It’s interesting that, for more than 15 years, we never needed it, though the vet dutifully checked it each year to make sure it was still reading correctly. But that one time was more than enough to make it worth the trouble many times over. Plus the peace of mind knowing he had it was great too.

          Isn’t NextDoor just great? We have an online group at York and one at Alexandria, and I use both frequently. I have gotten some wonderful advice and good deals (even one neighbor who was GIVING away some lovely teas she was given for Christmas and didn’t want! πŸ™‚ ) but the best thing about it is that I feel so much more in touch with what is happening in the neighborhoods. That’s very helpful when one divides time between two different locations. Just tonight there were several neighbors making doggie play dates together. Online time can isolate us but it also can bring us together in real time, if we are intentional about how we use it.

          • We’ve had all our cats chipped since the technology became readily available, and the peace of mind is wonderful. We even had a certain white and orange kitty chipped, since he lives here and the owner couldn’t be bothered. Again, peace of mind.

            I’m glad you are connected to both neighborhoods, and that you even scored some wonderful tea.

            • Alys, if that chip ever gets scanned, I hope it says “Please return this handsome kitty to his REAL family.” πŸ˜€ Yes, the connection to the neighborhoods through the NextDoor app has been nice. Although some of the outlying areas (as you probably know, you can set your parameters much wider than your own neighborhood) have had more than a few snarky comments exchanged, which is a shame. But luckily, the gracious people far outnumber the less amiable ones. Sort of like life in general, I guess.

              • Oh yes, the snarky comments abide. I take a break from it when that happens.

                The chip is registered in my name. I hope it’s never an issue, Julia. I would be heartbroken.

                • I doubt it will be an issue, Alys. As with my sister’s unofficially adopted dog, I assume the neighbors are happy to have someone else take responsibility. One person’s loss is another’s gain, even when that loss is voluntary…

  9. Sheila

    🐾🐾 It goes without saying that Jack was the first doggie that I saw this morning. Jack was a rescue (as you know) and I’ve often read of volunteers that go to All 4 Paws and help with various needs, even walking the pooches on the beach. That may be something you could consider in your area, without committing to the owner responsibility right now. I saw Jack and Mr. and Mrs. Clownfish in the related post. We’re so looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks. Bittersweet! 😒❀️

    • Sheila, I do think it would be wonderful for me to volunteer at a shelter. I would have to get a good bit tougher about wanting to take every one of them home, though. I guess it’s the sort of thing one would get used to. Yes, it will be wonderful to see you– bittersweet but also strangely fitting. ❀

  10. I’m on board with this request Julia and it’s a complete joy too. Look at the smile on that one in the photo. My heart skips a beat. Since we’ve both known the love of our family dogs, I needn’t tell you that looking at a smiling face and hearing their wagging tails thump the floor can make all the days trouble melt away. I’ve been ready for a new dog for a long time. Jim still says no. I’m not sure he’ll ever change his mind so like you, I make sure to love up every dog that goes by the house. My friend in Mexico, Kathryn has 26 dogs !! She captures their wonderful personalities on film and I love spending time on her Instagram. They all make me so happy. xo K

    • Thanks for sharing this link. I’ve been to her site before (probably from your page?) and loved it. Maybe Jim will eventually change his mind but even if he doesn’t, there will be a lot of dogs out there who benefit from your attention. So it’s all good. πŸ™‚

      • Welcome! Kathryn from ‘The Lonely Dogs’ and I had dinner together last month in Edmonton. She was visiting her parents in Red Deer Alberta. A smaller city two hours south, but was flying out of our airport. You would really like her. She’s sweet and kind with a love for all animals. She’s just a doll. Her dad is an ex RCMP. The first time Kathryn and I met up (3 years ago) we planned lunch in Red Deer (where they live). When she got to the table, she shyly said, “my dad is making me call him to say you’re not a monster” and we laughed. He didn’t trust a meet up with someone she’d met on line and I can totally understand. HA! Turns out, he and I know the same people. It’s such a small world. I’ll try to remember to tell you about it when I visit. xo K

        • Please do! I’d love to hear more. Red Deer is such a charming name for a town. It’s quite interesting that she ended up in a place with so different a climate. It sounds as if she is living out the fantasy so many of us had as children who were disappointed when the parents wouldn’t take in every stray we spotted. I am so happy she is loving the lonely dogs!

  11. Harry Sims

    I’ll be sure to tell my dog – her name is Daisy Mae that you said thank you.
    Daisy Mae is her name.
    Doggie is her game.
    Thank you

    • Harry, I totally love this. What a great name for a dog — Daisy Mae! PERFECT! And I’ve never even seen her.

      • Harry Sims

        How did she get her name?
        You see we adopted her from a family who didn’t have room for her anymore and Daisy was already her name.
        I’m a lifetime funny paper reader and little Abner’s girlfriends name who I’ve always admired ‘sis Daisy Mae.
        So Daisy became Daisy Mae..
        You see I love her..
        She loves me..

        • It’s such a perfect name for a dog. I’m surprised we don’t hear it more often. I guess not too many people remember Abner. I had a friend whose boxer was named Daisy which was a great name for her too.

  12. A dog is a wonderful gift from God. At the most difficult times of our lives their zest for life reminds us that life is meant to be lived. In caring for our pets we must come out of ourselves. They give us a purpose that we may have thought lost, simply because they need us. Even if just to fill a water bowl.

    • Alan, that zest for life is so important because it’s always there no matter what else is going on. Our animals can be super-sensitive to knowing when we are sad, so it’s not a matter of their being unaware. They just break through it– and help us do the same. And yes, being needed is so important, especially when it’s something as simple as filling a water bowl. If only our own needs were as easy to deal with!

      • Amen, Julia. I’ll let God take care of those.

        • Alan, I try to do that too, but sometimes I want to give precise instructions on how I want God to do that! πŸ˜€ Good thing I’m not in charge because I’m often wrong. As Anne Lamott says, “God is not a short-order cook.” πŸ˜€

          • I like that quote.
            We know one thing. That is that God does answer our requests/prayers in one of three ways: Yes, no or wait.

            • Sometimes I have mistaken “no” for “wait,” but I’d rather do that than mistake “wait” for “no.” πŸ™‚

  13. Sheila

    My Granddaughter, Grayson, shared a photo on Facebook of a doggie water bowl with the addition of ice cubes and a slice of lemon on the rim. Loving youth! πŸΎπŸ˜‰

    • Sheila, I love that! I wonder whether the dog ate the lemon? I generally think of dogs eating most anything, but a lemon might be a different story. Amy’s dog Wrecker actually likes ice cubes a la carte. It makes for a quick and totally free treat!

      • Sheila

        Grayson is experiencing Fairbanks, Alaska today. The temp was -17 yesterday so I’m sure that little southern belle is shivering. “Y’all, it’s too dang COLD!” ❄️❄️❄️❄️

        • Sheila, I hope things are warming up for her. We had another beautifully warm day today, but it has turned rather chilly. ANY excuse to have another cup of hot tea…chamomile now, since it’s so late. For those of us who grew up in the south, it doesn’t take much of a temperature drop to be too cold (temp below 40) or TOO DANG COLD! (temp below 30) πŸ˜€ When you get down to that level, people start breaking out all those colorful idioms…

  14. Very cute.

    • Thank you, Dan! Your own website is very interesting. Do you have any information about dogs? I really like the article about xylitol. It is probably my first choice among all the non-sucrose sweeteners. You are doing some very good work – keep it up!

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