Sunday, December 6, 2009

The joy of barking

We used to have a dog. A beautiful, liver and white English Springer Spaniel named Charlie Brown. A.k.a the Chuckinator

For two years we shared our lives with this lovable bundle of energy, watching him grow from a 4-week-old ball of fur to a fifty-pound young dog. And while it wasn't always easy — does anyone really like picking up your pet's daily presents? — it was a joyful time. From the first, uneventful (he slept the whole way) car trip home and all the subsequent car trips to the store/vet/groomer to the final car trip to his excited, new owners. That's what we remember most when we think of our Charlie. The joys.

We recall the simple things he enjoyed. A good ice cube to chew on. A game of tug of war with a dirty rope toy. A yummy peanut-butter-cheese-beef-"really-I'm-not-picky-so-whatever-you've-got-there-works" treat. A loooooong, slobbery drink of water. A brisk walk at 6am or 3pm or 11pm. A spontaneous run through a sprinkler.

We laugh at the witching hour. You dog lovers know what we're talking about don't you? That strange time of day when your puppy suddenly seems to go nuts and runs around wildly just, we're certain, for the pure fun of running.

We reminisce about when he first learned to bark. How that deep, booming bark suddenly emerged sometime near the end of his first year and how scared and surprised he seemed at the noise he'd just made. Then once he had it down pat, how he would bark simply because he could. For the sheer joy of barking.

We think that's what the holidays are all about. Not spending oodles of money on the best and biggest gifts, or outdoing the neighbors. But the simple joys. The joy of being with family and friends. The joy of just being.

Don't know what that looks like? Take a look at a dog.

Or take a look at ours. Below: 1. You want me to do what? 2. Snowflakes keep falling on my head. 3. Doesn't everybody love eating ice cubes? 4. Being nosy 5. The big tease 6. Got it!

For Chuck.