Aisle Of Wit

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No Bitching Today

I’ve been in a more than somber and dour mood of late, what with all of the strife and tragedy of recent days.  Not today.  Today we’re celebrating the birthday of my other niece.  The one with the fur.

Stella Allen is eight today, which depending upon which body type you believe she has translates to between 48 and 64.  Which means she’s roughly in the age vicinity of her parents, and we’ve already established they’re in damn good shape.  Her big sister calls her a “fat dog”, but that’s intended with love and irony.  Her nickname is “piglet”, but she doesn’t oink.  She yawns, she occasionally growls, and she smiles.  A LOT. And she is one extremely playful puppy.  A chew toy won’t make it more than a night or two, and don’t ever think you’ll be able to avoid getting into a tug-of-war with her, which she will inevitably win,.Stella’s place in her family is that of a blessing and a continuation.  There was a first furry niece, and that’s a nice story too.

My family was barely capable of taking care of humans, and we didn’t have a lot of room in our cramped apartment, so we never had a family pet short of a goldfish.  Like her children, my mom overfed them too.  That didn’t last long.  Neither Floyd nor Lloyd made it past a few weeks.  Boyd lasted a day.  We never made it to Cloyd.

So it was especially important that the ability to nurture a living creature be reinforced at the pet level.  Their choice was a pedigree chocolate lab who they named Foster.  After the beer.  Foster was regal, stoic and intimidating.  Big piercing eyes.  Like all labs, adorable beyond belief.  And when I first met her, she towered over my relatively petite sister.

I’ll never forget the sight of this massive beast emerging from the car to greet me at the suburban train station when I first met her.  My sister was struggling to contain this barking ball of energy as she growled at the sight of me.  As forcefully as my sister ever said anything, she tugged on the leash and said “Foster!  That’s your UNCLE!”.   She immediately stopped barking, looked me over curiously, looked at her mom as if to say “You’re kidding??”.  I wasn’t exactly the dashing figure then that I am now.  As I gingerly approached the car, she stared Foster down and reiterated “That is your uncle.  Be NICE!!!”.  I stuck out my hand, my non-writing one, just in case she was hungry and my judgment was off.  She started to lick my hand.

To this day, I’ve never felt such an immediate bonding with any living creature.  She had me at woof.

Foster Shuva Allen (the middle name was added to reinforce her Jewish identity) was part of that family for 16 years, a constant presence as the human siblings were born and growing.  A faithful companion, she’d frequently be taken on long trips up and down the East Coast.  That pooch logged more mlies than many truckers, and if given the chance could have outeaten many as well.

But as the story goes all dogs DO go eventually to heaven, and when Foster finally passed it was as heartbreaking an experience as her family had ever endured.  My (human) niece and nephew were, in a word, devastated.  It took them some time to be ready to adopt a replacement.  This one, my sister and brother-in-law insisted, would need to be a true family pet.  Both of the “kids” were old enough to be responsible.  With that established, they adopted Stella, named of course for let another beer.

So it was my niece that brought Stella to her obedience school training lessons, learning what undoubtedly will eventually become her own superb nurtuing skills.   My nephew is the one who does most of the late walks when he’s home.  And it’s my niece’s guy who this time around is the one who gets the skeptical eye, but ultimately lots of loving licks.

Yes, life can be a bitch at times.  When the bitch just happens to be Stella, it’s still worth a celebration.  Break open a case of your favorite beverage and toast her if you can.

Until next time…