My children came to me requesting permission to give Jayne a puppy for her birthday; after all, we were empty nesters!
Please recognize we’d had dogs. Why, there was Rocky, the Alaskan Malamute. He dragged our kids everywhere, too big for small children. There was Dan and Ann, two Britany Spaniels named after the hounds in the 70’s movie, Where the Red Fern Grows. Michael Paul was to teach them to be huntin’ dogs. They were too hyper! Just like my kids! Finally, there was Cocoa and Spunky. I could never keep Cocoa in the kennel. Curious as to how she gained freedom, one morning I hid behind the corner of the house and watched as she stepped back to the nether parts of the kennel, ran toward the containing fence, and sprang to the top of the 5-foot enclosure. What an athlete! We left the dogs the next week in the care of a neighbor girl. When we returned, Cocoa was AWAL and the girl was heartsick. Spunky lived to a ripe, old age; he had one eye removed due to glaucoma, died, and is buried in our backyard.
So, we’d had dogs. I felt my dog days were over. Yet, here were my children, begging for a dog for mother; I succumbed. Her name is Tess; Jayne calls her Tessie. She is Syracuse born and bred and, most importantly, loved by Jayne.
I endured the puppy stage, the excitement pee, the whining, the chewing of baseboards and chairs, and the general disobedience. I have to say I was exasperated. So, they sent me to Puppy School! We are both obedient, now!
Some months back, Tessie taught me an unforgettable lesson. It’s fitting to share. In Puppy School, we were taught several commands that she mastered quite quickly. Jayne taught her to shake hands and to roll over. With the Covid-19 epidemic, we’re not shaking hands now, and rolling over never impressed me. The first command I taught her was “Leave it!” When she hears this command, she is to leave what she is interested in, come to me, and heel. Now, that’s useful! Since Puppy School, I’ve taught her to “Go to your Place”, “Come”, “Sit” and “Wait”. I now play a game with her; you gotta know I love her, too.
Tessie loves cheese! I hold a piece of cheese in my fingers and tell her: “Go to your Place”. Once in place, I show her the cheese, but she doesn’t come until I give the command: “Come”. Once by my side, I give her instruction: “Sit”. Now, the hard part: “Wait” as I dangle the cheese in front of her nose. She waits patiently, displaying those yearning, longing eyes. Do dogs have souls? But she waits patiently for something sure, something good, that she knows will eventually come.
Commanded to “Stay Home—Stay Safe”, we’ve honored that. We’ve had to wait patiently for a day that we know will come, left only with a yearning for normalcy. It will come, albeit perhaps anew! This is my definition of hope. Thank you, Tessie, for the lesson!
Michael Gailey, Mayor