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Some things to know about this picture, and the smiling pup in it:

  1. She and her siblings, along with their mom, were thrown from a car into traffic when the puppies were tiny. Two of the dogs died; the three remaining puppies were rescued and fostered by an amazing human being. We were lucky enough to adopt two of them.
  2. This particular pup had a problem in each of her front legs that required surgery, followed by an extensive recovery. For several weeks after each operation, she had to wear a cast all the way up to her shoulder, along with a harness that allowed us to give her extra support when walking, which was taxing for her. Whenever we went outside, we put a soft boot over the cast, and she had to wear an old long-sleeved t-shirt of mine so that she wouldn’t chew on her leg when it itched. Once a week, she had to have her cast changed, which we did at the local vet, rather than taking the 3-hour journey back to the surgeon. She let all of us do everything we needed to do without complaint, watching us carefully but trusting that we were helping.
  3. Throughout the surgeries, the recoveries, and the slow healing process, this pup smiled, cuddled, played (as best she could) with her brother, and continued to get excited about such things as a ride in the car or a new treat. She became a favorite throughout town, as even strangers soon recognized the hop-walk she developed, and the smile that went along with it (most of the time). When she’d healed enough to return to the beach – her favorite place – her enormous joy filled the whole world.
  4. Sometimes I think about what this girl has been through, and I am just amazed by the tenacity of her sweet, funny personality. When we first met her, she was so wary of people that she ran around the perimeter of the yard, as far away as she could get, before her foster mom finally picked her up and plunked her in my lap. I wasn’t at all sure about how she’d be, but I didn’t need to worry; she’s absolutely wonderful. She makes us smile every single day, without fail, and she reminds me of the importance of resiliency, perseverance, and joy.
  5. I wish, of course, that she had always had an easy time of life, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful to have her in mine, even as I wish the circumstances hadn’t been so painful. She and her brother have broadened our lives, as love seems to always do, and I’m grateful to have her trust, her presence, and her sweetness every day that we’re together.

What a blessing it is, to love animals. I think it must be true that we really don’t deserve our pets, but I sure am thankful they’re here. I’ll do everything I can to make sure that from here on out, this little pup has a life marked only by love. It’s the least I can do, when she’s given us so very much.

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