Charles Schulz said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” I agree with him. The happiness extends to full grown dogs … even two full-grown large Golden retrievers.
I do some sitting for other people’s dogs, and for the past three days, it’s been with two six-year-old Golden retriever sisters named Casey and Amber. I don’t want to suggest by the title that I have a particular prejudice towards Golden retrievers. I watch other breeds and mixes of breeds, and I love all of the doggies in my life. Even so, there’s a lot to love about Goldens. They are gentle, even-tempered and loving, intelligent, loyal and playful.
From my very first meeting with them, they were eager to meet me and love me. It reminds me of Pixar’s Dug the Dog from the movie Up. (I’m pretty sure Dug is a Golden retriever.) Dug loves his master, Carl Fredricksen, from the moment he meets him.
Amber and Casey both nosed at each other in their eagerness to get to me and receive some attention, a theme that stayed through the three-day stay to come. Amber, the sister with the darker, deeper coat, pranced in place, her toenails clicking against the floor, and whined at me, while Casey mostly succeeded in pushing her sister to the side. Soon, I had Casey’s front paws on my torso. Some people would consider “jumping up” to be bad dog behavior, but I understood it as friendliness and love, mixed with a lot of enthusiasm.
Giving the dogs equal attention was a challenge. Casey had a habit of pushing her sister away in order to get undivided attention for petting and affection. Sometimes, I managed to sit in the recliner and pet a different dog with each hand. Casey often had a way of wriggling herself and pushing her sister to the side. Often, she did a full rotation and leaned her butt against me, and I would talk to them, saying, “I have Casey’s butt and Amber’s head,” as I petted each. Once situated this way, Casey liked to sit between my feet or even on them. I didn’t mind this foot warmer, and I supposed she wanted me to be able to pet her back and sides, which I did. Amber, pushed aside, would complain with her voice and, perhaps, giving up, lie down in another part of the room.
I discovered one way to keep them both content was to sit on the floor between them. At one point, I had Amber’s head on my lap, and Casey lying with her full length against my right leg. I sat with them for quite a while, lavishing them with petting and affection. They were both quite happy and calm in this situation.
Both girls liked to give me their paws and let me hold them, and I sometimes serenaded them with a line or two of Beatles parody, “I want to hold your paw.” I’m not sure what they thought of my serenade, but they listened very seriously.
Their owners had warned me that I would have Golden alarm clocks during my stay. That was another funny situation. Every so often, during the night, there were Golden noses on the edge of my bed until I whispered for them to go back to their own beds. In the early morning, bouncing and wriggly noses returned to the edge of the bed. As their patience for me to be up diminished, they were like children on Christmas morning. The noses were wriggling among my layers of covers — it was cold — to find my face and give me morning kisses. Later, front legs and paws joined noses on the edge of the bed.
So, I got up around 7:30 — as the owners predicted — and gave them breakfast and let them out. How could I be upset with all of that enthusiastic affection? Happiness is a warm puppy or a full-grown dog … or two.