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Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Times with a Good Dog

Such a sunny personality!

Well, I've wrapped up my eighteen-day stay with Sweetheart, the lovely old German Shepherd, but not before we had a lot of fun! There were trips to the park by her house and trips to parks elsewhere in town and trips to the big regional off-leash dog park, too. I also played many games with her at home: in the evenings, I'd sit on the couch and watch the Olympics while rolling her ball for her to fetch. She liked to try to pick up her ball while holding her tire toy in her mouth and then, when in close range, drop the ball and kick it to me with her front paws. We both enjoyed that!

Waiting for me to throw the ball at "her" park.

Sweetheart comes running with her tire toy when she sees me kneel down with my camera. The tire's companion toy, the white ball, is just visible in the background. She loves to play with them together!

Sweetheart, on the left, greets one of the many other German Shepherds we saw at the dog park.

There was no way that Sweetheart, with her withered back legs, could keep up with the spry seven year-old German Shepherd, but she had fun chasing the ball with her anyway!

The trip to the dog park was very gratifying because it revealed how bonded Sweetheart was to me. She missed her family, of course--she always looked closely at young children while we were out to see if they were "her" children--but while they were away, she had decided that she was with me! When let off-leash, she never went far ahead before looking back to check in. On one excursion we took with my mother, I had my mom hold Sweetheart's leash while I walked back to the car and Sweetheart cried and barked longingly when she saw me walk away without her! I have to say, I was very touched that I meant that much to her! She has a very sweet and caring personality--I was impressed when on another walk she refused to walk faster down a hilly trail than my sister, who was with us, could manage in her sandals--but I felt honored to have earned her loyalty.

A freshly brushed Sweetheart looks every inch the noble and devoted German Shepherd!

While Sweetheart may look very handsome and embody the best of her breed's traits, make no mistake: she's a great big goof! Dignity means nothing to her, not when rolling around with her toys or rubbing her face in the bushes or getting her belly rubbed is so much fun! I really love that in a dog!

When feeling particularly playful and excited, Sweetheart would rub her head around on the carpet and make all sorts of funny groans and growls.

Here she is looking very silly, sprawled in the sun with her tongue hanging out!

It was very pleasant to spend so much time with Sweetheart, who thrived on all the attention she got. With young children in the house, it's just not possible for her family, no matter how much they love her, to give her the same amount of one-on-one time I'm able to provide. She repaid the favor by licking every inch of me that she could reach (I learned that I do NOT like to have my armpit licked!) and taking an active interest in all of my activities. She ate all of her meals without hesitation while I was with her, something that doesn't always happen when her family is home, and I took that as a good sign! I also enjoyed living in her beautiful, quiet house, photographing the family's fish, and taking advantage of the house's air conditioning when the weather finally heated up.

The view from the kitchen window.

The fish.

I was rather sad to say goodbye to Sweetheart when her family returned because she was a such a nice dog and on her part, she was all ready to jump in the car with me and go wherever I was going! However, I'd been missing my computer (that's what happens when you're hooked on Macs) and my mother's cooking and being able to watch shows at will on Hulu (with the exception of the Olympics, TV is MUCH better on the internet!) And while I don't consider my dog to be my "baby," per se (she's a DOG), I was missing her very much, with an urgency akin to a craving. I didn't spend nearly as much time at home as I often do when looking after Mr. Gorgeous because I'm fine with leaving him outside in his park-like yard in his all-weather collie coat for extended periods during the day, but Sweetheart demonstrated an inability (her only downside!) to go more than five hours inside without having an accident and I hated to leave her for long hours in the garage. Thus, I only got to see my own dog in small doses. I'm very happy to be reunited with her sweet and wiggly little self! (A fifty pound dog seems very small after you've been living with a rangy German Shepherd.)

Abbey, happy to be home with me on a sunny afternoon, samples the scents in the wind.

Sweetheart's family was very happy with the work I did, so I will likely see my new German Shepherd friend again. While I very much look forward to spending time with her again, it's nevertheless very good to be home!

Quintessential Sweetheart: mellow, friendly, and curious!

"Huh?" Sweetheart raises her head to see if she needs to interrupt her nap to do something with me!

The sweet old girl takes a much-deserved nap!

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