Little Thel

And I was privileged to see Thel spend her first few minutes in the bay water. She only made it up to her chest, but we’re getting there.

I took a puppy named Thelma Lou fishing today. It was her first fishing trip. We fished at a secluded spot that I’ve been fishing at for a long time.

I’ve never told anyone where it is. Not even my wife.

To tell you the truth, it’s not really that great of a spot. Actually, it’s terrible for catching fish. But it’s quiet, and that counts for a lot in my book.

Little Thel and I hiked to the spot around lunchtime. She followed close behind my heels until she got tired. Then, she rode in my bait bucket.

Right away, I could tell fishing with Thelma Lou was a bad idea. This is because the only skills this seven-week-old puppy currently has are:

1. walking
2. pooping

Plus, she doesn’t know how to sit still for more than eight seconds.

I finally gave up fishing and ate lunch. I’d brought a Thermos of coffee, a sandwich, and a jar of peanut butter. The coffee and sandwich were for me. The peanut butter was for Thel.

My late dog loved peanut butter. I used to buy it by the case. You’ve never seen an animal go so crazy over peanut butter. I’ve still got dozens of unopened jars in the pantry.

Last night, I discovered Thel likes peanut butter, too. She was whimpering at the table, so I dipped my finger into a jar and gave her a taste. She drew blood.

One taste turned into another taste. Then another. And another.

It was almost too much culinary delight for one puppy to bear. She got so excited that she made a Tootsie Roll on the kitchen floor.

So, back to fishing.

After lunch, Thel fell asleep in a peanut butter coma. While she snored, I fished. She only slept for twenty minutes. When she awoke, she started eating bait.

“Quit that,” I said.

I gave her more peanut butter to distract her.

As it happens, my fishing trip was less than a success. But I did manage to spend the day with a puppy.

Not a bad day if you ask me.

I might not have caught anything, but I was able to whittle a stick—the same way old men used to do. I was also able to sing a few songs and hear my own voice bounce on the bay water. Thel tried to sing with me.

And I was privileged to see Thel spend her first few minutes in the bay water. She only made it up to her chest, but we’re getting there.

On our way back to the truck, Thel and I walked through the woods. We came upon a wooden cross, poking from the ground. I spotted it in the distance. It was small, made from pine sticks fastened together with twine. There were no names written on it, no flowers.

There was only an elephant figurine next to it. I picked up the figurine. It was plastic. I don’t know why it was there. Maybe someone is missing a friend.

Well, I know what that feels like. I miss late friends, too. I miss my father—who taught me to fish. I miss the dog who, before she died, loved peanut butter more than anything.

I removed my hat. I bowed my head. Thelma Lou sat beside me—which was a miracle. I didn’t know who we were honoring, but we were honoring them just the same.

When we finished, we wandered to the truck. Thel kept so close to my feet she almost broke my neck. She curled in my passenger seat and slept during the ride home.

She smells like bay water today, and there is no finer smell on a dog than wet.

Somewhere out there in the woods is a pine-stick cross with an elephant figurine nearby.

And one peanut butter jar.

I love you, Thelma Lou.


  1. Ellen Shelley - May 3, 2018 5:44 am

    Yay for you and Yay for Thelma. She is saving you. I know what that feels like. We had to get a pup after a great loss of a great friend we found at Sam’s Club, Sam. We got our rescue pup, Bentley. Now, that is a laugh since we didn’t rescue him. He rescues us every day.

  2. Beth Reed - May 3, 2018 6:18 am

    Isn’t love grand? The Thel is going to be a great friend to you. I can already tell that you have puppy dog stars in your eyes and in your heart.
    Honoring the cross from sticks and twine with a plastic elephant nearby seems like a wonderful way to spend the day with Thelma Lou.
    I had a dog crazy about peanut butter. His name was Peanut of course. We had glass jars back then so we had to be extra careful to put it away because he counter surfed and could manage to open the jar. Glass and dogs, especially puppies do not mix.
    I am happy for you to have a new fur friend. Lots of hugs coming y’all’s way. Xxxx kisses for Thel.
    Xxx Beth

  3. Beth Reed - May 3, 2018 6:20 am

    Forgive the errors. My phone likes to type what it wants lol. Hugs, Beth

  4. Janet Mary Lee - May 3, 2018 6:27 am

    Sweet words to read! Love the Tootsie Roll image! Peace and love are a great thing, aren’t they ? So is Thelma!!
    So are you! Many more wonderful days to you both!!

  5. liz1workinprogress - May 3, 2018 7:13 am

    Your stories charm me, time and time again. Even the sad ones. <3

  6. Linda Till - May 3, 2018 7:22 am

    Sean, be careful with the peanut butter. Too much fatty human food can cause pancreatitis in dogs, or so I have read. I love hearing about Thelma Lou. Especially the fishing. I’ve done that, and it is as you said.

  7. Buddy King - May 3, 2018 9:38 am

    And I bet Thelma loves you!

  8. Susan in Ga. - May 3, 2018 9:49 am

    Awwwww, endearing story told simply. Sweet way to greet this day. Love to you & li’l Thel.

  9. Barb - May 3, 2018 10:46 am

    Baby steps, Sean.

  10. Joan Lang - May 3, 2018 10:49 am

    And we love Thel, too.

  11. JV Pittman - May 3, 2018 11:44 am

    Dogs….God’s greatest gift to the human race. JV

  12. Beth Ann - May 3, 2018 12:08 pm

    Thelma Lou is the peanut butter to your bread and I am so glad you have her and can share her with all of us. Thank you, Sean.

  13. Tana Branch - May 3, 2018 12:08 pm

    We finally rescued another Border Collie 4 years after our Sweet Pete died. Glad you had the sense to do it sooner. I sure missed dog snot on my windows and doors and long “stanky” hair from the pond. Luke is a blessing just as Thelma is. I know all dogs go to heaven —just as the book says.

  14. Melanie Tighe - May 3, 2018 12:24 pm

    How bittersweet. Memories of Ellie. Making new memories with Thelma. Happy that you and your wife had the fortitude to make room in your hearts for another member of the family. ❤️

  15. Curtis J Maloy - May 3, 2018 12:41 pm

    Just found your site, and the first story I read is about a new puppy who loves peanut butter. This is going to be awesome.

  16. Carol ann ROTHWELL - May 3, 2018 12:43 pm

    I have no words…Just tears flowing….joy,sadness
    They both fill my heart..!
    Tell Thel, I think she’s one lucky pup,and so our you Sean!!
    I’ll keep a jar of peanut butter handy,just in case…
    Love ya.?!

  17. Linda Trammell - May 3, 2018 1:04 pm

    Your name selection for “Thelma Lou” is wonderful. I’ll bet she often thinks, “He can’t sing a lick,” or maybe, “He’s a nut!” Love your stories!

  18. Jack Quanstrum - May 3, 2018 1:59 pm


  19. Toni - May 3, 2018 2:03 pm

    Words of caution, peanut butter in excess given to dogs causes pancreatisis. Ask your Vet for advice. I am only thinking of you and what you just went through with Elli Mae! Love your stuff!

  20. Sue Cronkite - May 3, 2018 2:13 pm

    Another heart-warmer.

  21. Dana Goodwin Brown - May 3, 2018 2:21 pm

    Next to my daily bible verse, you are my consistent daily read. Love your observations on the everyday life.

    I too lost a pup some years ago. Different circumstances—very young as opposed to well seasoned. The first thing my husband I ever loved together. That pup was/is our pride and joy. Thankfully we had the good sense to open our hearts again and now have two furkids that run our home. Funny how the love of a dog can repair all the worlds problems.

    We still think and speak of our beloved Captain often. I’m not sure that will ever change. I sure hope it doesn’t. The initial comparison between the “old” and “new” is tough but I wholeheartedly believe the new guys helped heal our broken hearts.

    Looking forward to seeing Ms Thelma learn and grow! Keep the stories and photos coming. I’m
    sure Ellie Mae is smiling down on you all.

  22. Betty - May 3, 2018 2:36 pm

    You make me smile when I am going through some very trying times. Thank you.

  23. Becky Lee - May 3, 2018 3:06 pm

    God bless Thelma Lou and you! Keep writing!

  24. Catherine - May 3, 2018 3:07 pm


  25. Jim - May 3, 2018 3:28 pm

    Sean. So glad you were blessed with little Thel. I can read the joy returning to your words

  26. Marty from Alabama - May 3, 2018 3:37 pm

    It is going to take a while to get use to Lil’ Thel, but time will take care of that. Time or nothing else will ever erase the tales of Ellie Mae. I could almost feel your heart breaking as you and Thel walked toward the water hole. Ellie will forever be a part of you – and a lot of us as well.
    Write on, my friend, write on.

  27. Edna B. - May 3, 2018 3:41 pm

    I have to agree with another reader. Our rescued dogs actually rescue us. I know my little guy did. What a wonderful story today. I just know that you and Thelma Lou are going to fill a whole album with some awesome memories. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  28. Teresa Kendall - May 3, 2018 3:44 pm

    Just once, you might have to post a picture. You know we want to meet your new girl!

  29. muthahun - May 3, 2018 4:51 pm

    I’m just a bit envious of your current source of puppy breath, Sean. And because we both love our hounds and want to do our very best for them, I’m posting this site about peanut butter. There are only 4 brands (maybe) that add xylitol which is deadly for dogs, but as Toni mentioned, too much fatty people food can cause pancreatitis and obesity… sort of like parents who love their kids so much they give them candy and sweets because it makes them happy, but down the road, it makes the kids fat and unhealthy, y’know? Anyway, I hope you have a read:

  30. Jean Totten - May 3, 2018 5:14 pm

    I, too, caution you to NOT start Thelma Lou on people food. Proven to not be good for pups of any age. If you love her, don’t feed her human “stuff.”

  31. Diane Plauche - May 3, 2018 9:24 pm

    I am a new subscriber. My friend shared your blog with me. I love it. Thank you so much for the wonderful stories. Brings back memories.

  32. Tom J. Faia - May 3, 2018 10:04 pm

    Love your stories…..This one no exception. Only next time you’re out there in nature
    remember to bring the empty glass peanut butter jar back with you to put in the trash. : )

  33. Pamela McEachern - May 3, 2018 10:46 pm

    Sweet memories to share with Thel, and new adventures for you and your new baby girl. The sun is starting to shine alittle brighter for ya’ll.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham ?

  34. Mary Ellen Hall - May 5, 2018 2:17 am

    I’m SO VERY HAPPY to see you with “Thelma Lou!!”
    “Ellie Mae” would be SO PROUD!!?


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