I have to honestly admit that I no longer wonder why I have a dog. Even when I enter the den and all the dog toys are scattered around the room. I know exactly why she is in my life. It wasn’t long ago when I tried to convince myself that I did not need an animal. Buffy, my dog of 15 years, had died with cancer, and I told myself that I did not need to be saddled with new vet bills and afternoon walks that led me beside every tree and mail box for two miles. Was I ever wrong! The house may have been filled with people—laughing and talking, but it also was vacant because it was dogless. Having to deal with that void, changed me. In the past, I would have ranted over the endless stream of toys tossed here and there. “What a mess,” I would have lamented and quickly picked up each one. Now, I gladly wade through the puppy pile of stuff without one word of discord. Or I just pick up a few and put them back in the toy bin.

One of my absolute favorite things is this: at night before I turn off the lights, I love to look down the hallway to see if some stray toy has made its way halfway back to the bedroom. Usually, poor P Bear—the one with the slightly chewed ears and the licked-clean head—is face down in the rug. It is a sight that never fails to make me smile. I don’t pick him up. I just leave him there because he reminds me that the house is full now because a dog lives here.

I snapped the top photo and before I could walk away, Cocoa ran in and grabbed the sock that Janice sent home to her. It was time to play!

It was also time to think about playing a game of “keep away”  . . . from me.