"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Shoeless Joe

This week our best buddy, Shoeless Joe celebrated his 8th birthday.

He spent his first few months of life at the camp in Massachusetts where Jack worked.
During those sunny days in the Berkshires, they fell in love.
At camp he learned to be such a great beach dog, chasing away geese, ducks, and beavers.
And, when all the fun ended that August, this one little black and white
puppy came back to New York riding along as co-pilot in the convertible.
He still loves that seat and has ridden that cross-country trip from TX to MA and back again many times, tongue hanging out and ears flying back in the wind.

He is a happy dog, despite his sorrowful Springer Spaniel eyes
and droopy ears.
He believes he belongs on our laps, although he weighs over 50 pounds.
He jumps up to sleep on the foot of the bed only when I am in it.
He lies peacefully in the front yard watching passersby without moving until someone he knows acknowledges him. Then he rushes out with a joyful greeting.
He never barks except on command and then he has to clear his throat and work up to it.
(Even when he got trapped in our neighbor's garage and we called his name frantically for over an hour, he watched the closed door intently but never barked. We wish he had!)

And he patiently tolerates grandchildren who mistake him for a reindeer.
(Really?? How humiliating.)

If you asked him what his favorite things are, I'm sure he'd respond:
Running, especially on the beach chasing birds or geese;
(leashes not included, see above.)
Lying in the grass, tummy up, with the breeze blowing his silky fur;
Bolting from the backdoor to tree a squirrel;
Sitting on the couch while we scratch his ears and belly;
And pleasing us by doing tricks for treats.

By far his best trick was tough to teach but serves a great purpose.
Opening the door and saying, "Get the paper, Shoe!" sends him flying down the driveway.
He eagerly grabs the folded newspaper, gives it a swift flip in the air to straighten it in his mouth and then bounds back to us, dropping it at our feet.
If one of us is still sleeping in, we only have to tell him, "Take it to ---" and he snatches it up, runs to the bedroom and, in one easy leap, bounds on top of the sleeper, dropping the paper on the unsuspecting sleeper's chest. He rests there until his reward is offered and gobbled.


Even more than his performance is his attitude. Great enthusiasm and willingness to obey.
Even on Sunday when the paper is huge and bulky he carries it happily, though it's not easy.
We could all learn a bit about good attitudes from Shoeless Joe.

Happy Birthday, my faithful friend.
I love you.

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