The woman was walking her dog on the sidewalk. I saw them. She had a Cocker Spaniel, it was wearing a red vest. The dog was well-behaved.
I love Cocker Spaniels. Long ago, I had one.
“Her name’s Lady,” the woman said. “She used to be a service dog, but she’s not anymore. She’s retired.”
Lady is brown, with long floppy ears, and a calm face. She is gentle, and she is thick in the middle. She has two eyes that seem wise.
Lady’s quite an animal. Her previous owner passed from a stroke in 2017. Lady was eleven when it happened. This woman has owned Lady ever since.
“She’s a good girl,” said the woman. “But she likes to be really doing something, you know, working. I don’t have any jobs for her to do though, so I just invent games for her.”
And at the end of every day, Lady crawls on the woman’s lap. She rests her head on the woman’s tummy while she reads a book before bed. Lady usually falls asleep before anyone else.
Lady also gets up a lot earlier than the others in the family. But she makes no sound. She only waits by her new mother’s bed, sitting at attention, until everyone else wakes up. Old habits die hard.
This dog looks just like a friend I had once.
My old Cocker Spaniel was just like this one. One day, she just showed up on my porch, covered in knots and burrs. She was one of God’s own saints, sent to earth to show me what it means to slow down, eat more saturated fat, and take longer naps. She was my friend when I needed a friend.
We spent the rest of her life together. She would wait for me in the windowsill every evening. Whenever my truck would pull into the driveway, she would lose her mind.
When she passed, I gave her a funeral in the woods. I hiked a mile into the pines to bury her. She was wrapped in a sheet. I cried until sunset.
A few years ago, they built an apartment complex over her grave, with fitness room and swimming pool. The world keeps changing, it keeps getting bigger. I guess you can’t do anything to stop it.
The woman let me pet Lady. I did more than pet her. I kissed her face. But Lady doesn’t lick. She’s been trained too well. She does, however, like kisses.
“When she first came to us,” the woman said, “we were still grieving our Lab, Max. He got hit by a car. It was the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through.”
The woman was in her front yard at the time, gardening. Max ran into the street near the highway. She heard tires screech.
But not long thereafter, Lady made a home in their house. She became a member of the family.
And at the time, Lady was grieving, too.
“She really missed her old owner,” the woman went on. “She was a wreck, she’d sleep all day, just depressed.”
They tried to play with Lady, but Lady didn’t play. She’d spent an entire lifetime working, not chasing sticks. The first time someone tossed a tennis ball, Lady licked herself, wished her family the best, then went inside.
“We had to teach her how to be a pet,” she said. “And I think we both kinda brought each other back to life again. She needed us as much as we needed her.”
I gave Lady a few more strokes to the head.
A Cocker Spaniel has a glorious patch of soft fur that runs between their eyes. Beneath this fur is bone that has a groove perfectly shaped for your finger. It’s like God designed Cocker Spaniels to be pet in this exact place.
I used to pet my girl in this very spot until she would fall asleep at night.
Lady and I said goodbye. They walked away. Lady kept close beside her mother. She was a good dog. All the qualities of man with none of his vices, wrapped in fur.
Later that day, I drove across town to an apartment complex. I drove in circles until I found the place. The fitness room is located exactly where I once buried a dear friend.
I almost sang a song to my old girl, but there were people around. So I wrote this instead.
Kiss your dog today.
Jeanne Butler - August 24, 2018 5:36 am
What would we do without our furbabies?
Sherry Gorman - August 24, 2018 5:41 am
My sweet girl has lymphoma. I am treasuring every moment we have left together. Thank you for sharing your life with us in such a way that pulls at our heart strings and reminds us there is still good in the world.
Cathi - August 24, 2018 6:02 am
I’ve been kissing on both of mine all day and will probably do it again, at least for the rest of their lives.
Kathy Andrews Young - August 24, 2018 8:55 pm
We’re on our 4th cocker. Her name is Pippa and we are her people. She goes berserk when Company comes, especially to 4 or 5year olds. She to hunt moths, frogs, and lizards. She is 2, and has a few more good hunting days in her.
Pamela McEachern - August 24, 2018 8:36 am
My fur babies are my heart.
Peace and Love from Birmingham
Karen Erwin-Brown - August 24, 2018 10:08 am
Connie Havard Ryland - August 24, 2018 10:22 am
Our dogs are part of our family. They get love from everyone who walks in, because they give so much love. Sweet story.
Weird guy who don’t kiss dogs - August 24, 2018 12:22 pm
People are funny. They’d never kiss a person who just ate another persons poop……
Joy - August 24, 2018 12:26 pm
Thanks Sean! You always brighten my day….just wish I had a dog to kiss! My husband who is wonderful in every way except the fact that he doesn’t want a dog! Once when I was a little girl I had a wonderful dog, Gypsy, a beagle, who was the best friend I ever had. There is a TV show on CBS every Saturday morning called Lucky Dog that I enjoy watching….it is on at 8 am; and 10 am CST….each show is entirely different.
Just love your writings! Please keep them coming.
Peggy Savage - August 24, 2018 12:42 pm
My furbabies , Lucy and Desi, are God’s gift of lunconditional love. I’m thankful for them everyday. And yes, I kiss them morning, noon and night.
Anita Ryan - August 24, 2018 1:04 pm
Thanks, Sean for another sweet, beautiful story.
Kathy Bacon - August 24, 2018 2:17 pm
Thanks for another touching story.
Pat - August 24, 2018 2:19 pm
Being the owner of a cocker spaniel, I so enjoyed this story. Just this morning I ran my finger along the soft fur lined groove between her eyes and sang You Are My Sunshine to her. I thank God for her every day!
Edna B. - August 24, 2018 2:29 pm
Beautiful story! I kiss my little dog several times a day, every day. We rescued each other, and he is such a wonderful blessing for me. You have an awesome day Sean, hugs, Edna B.
Shelton Armour - August 24, 2018 2:38 pm
Sean, I certainly will. Thanks for the reminder. Give Thelma Lou a kiss, too (for all of us).
Melodie - August 24, 2018 3:16 pm
My fur baby is no longer with us. Moxie, and she was definitely full of it until the end, was a beautiful, long-haired, miniature Dachshund. She was 19 yrs. old when she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. We had her all those years, from the time she was born. Unconditional love and a total joy. No dog in the household to kiss, now, but, I’m on my way to the barn to kiss a very special, 35 yr. old, quarter horse Palomino. He’s my heart.
Carol - August 24, 2018 3:40 pm
isn’t it wonderful to have a wonderful being (mine’s name is Sparky) where you can throw all your love? sean, thank you for sharing another touching story in your life!
Jack Darnell - August 24, 2018 3:43 pm
Ahhh YES, I know about cockers and the burrs and knots. I spent hours removing them from my cocker, ACE, as a boy. We moved a lot and Ace was the best friend a boy could have when you moved into a new town… My next book is ‘Ace ‘n Me’ if I can ever get back to it.
Minnie Bourque - August 24, 2018 4:17 pm
I do every day, Sean. Indeed, many times a day. Love our two boys so very much! I have never trusted anyone who doesn’t like dogs….I just can’t imagine!
Love your writings!
Thank you! I think I’ll go in and kiss my boys again! I don’t think they’ll mind!
Sarah - August 24, 2018 4:57 pm
I just lost my cat almost two weeks ago in Freeport so my poor dog is being overly loved she tries to get away from my over cuddles.
Lyn - August 24, 2018 6:54 pm
When Max (our Pekingese) of 14 years died, I was embarrassed at how much I grieved. I cried inconsolably when I took him to the vet to be put down due to a stroke. I cried all day at work the next day. My sweet friend, who took every step I took was gone. That was 15 years ago. I still miss him.
Marcia De Graaf - August 24, 2018 10:16 pm
This really hit home as I have a cocker spaniel and have had a cocker for years. I got Charmaine from the Humane Society over 12 years ago. She and I are aging together, and I kiss her in the morning, at night, and many times in between. She’s my love.
Lisa Thigpen - August 25, 2018 2:54 am
I love everything you write, but I love when you write about dogs! I know you are a good man because you love dogs. I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs! Keep writing! It’s all good.
Alice - August 25, 2018 12:49 pm
What a sweet and sad story !God Bless you Sean !I love your stories and I love you❤️I hope you come back to Dothan sometime and let us meet you❤️❤️
Mary Ellen Hall - August 27, 2018 9:00 am
I LOVE this story, Sean!! What a SPECIAL DAY, for BOTH you & Lady!!!
I’m a HUGE DOG LOVER, & have been through the HEARTBREAKING times of losing LOVING DOGS!?
It”s one of those things you learn to live with, but you NEVER GET OVER!!❤
THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING your thoughts & memories!!!
Janet Mary Lee - August 28, 2018 7:26 pm
I love you write about that special petting groove! My hound has that too. Mama dogs use that spot to love on and calm their puppies. My Cocker was Sunshine. She got to Paris before I ever did, and she flew to Germany with us when we had orders there. I can not tell you the number of free brotchen, pastries and cookies and other assorted treats we received when walking in Germany, because dogs there are allowed in Restaurants and fussed over more than kids even. Hope that has not changed. She was a good dog, as all mine were, and are. I love when you write about them too! Kiss Thel for me and give her a gentle pet between the eyes!! 🙂
Melissa Mikkelsen - October 20, 2018 4:49 pm
My dogs are my family, my friends. I would never trust anyone who didnt like dogs. Thank you for the stories.
Jess Rawls - December 4, 2018 11:25 pm
Sean, I kiss my dog every day because I love her and she’s a member of my family. I had a dog before this one for fourteen years and when I had to have her put down because of cancer, it broke my heart. I cried more tears over Bailey than I have over some departed relatives. Dogs have always been a part of my life; they’re so sincere and loving. I miss Bailey, but I love Belle so it’ll be okay.