It’d been one year since I lost Hope. Not an idea of hope, but a dog that kept me going through one of the darkest times of my life.

My husband bought a miniature poodle for me when I was weak and in pain. Doctors weren’t sure what was wrong with me, diagnosing it as a virus, depression, or  simply with, “I don’t know.” Finally, in the fifth year, I found a doctor who tested me for half a day, then began a series treatments, medicines, daily and monthly shots that finally —and slowly — brought me out of my bed.

Harley wasn’t Hope.

Hope was there with me as I got well. She was my friend and confidante for fourteen years until she died.

I mourned for a solid year. Then one crisp Fall day, my favorite time of the year, I decided it was time.

After trying all the local shelters, I found an ad from a breeder. The only one left. When I saw that tiny ball of curly red fluff, I picked him up and he snuggled against my neck. He was mine.

We named him Harley because he ran. Everywhere he went. And since his favorite trick was to ride around my neck, folks at the Tall Ships Festival said he was my parrot.  I found my joy again.

My Dog, My Friend

Six months after we got Harley, I started having difficulty standing, concentrating, even sitting was painful. The symptoms were all too familiar. I had to stop working.

Of course, Harley loved having me at home. He was a natural clown, he would do anything to make me laugh: chase the ball, drop it, grab it again when I reached for it. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was smiling as he ran.  When I began having difficulty talking, he learned how to read my signs for sit, stay, come this way or that. If I had to leave, his welcome made me feel like the most important person in the world.

I may have lost my Hope, but I have my joy with my red Harley.

Do you have a pet who brings you joy? What does he or she do to make you laugh?