I Love a Dog Named Billy


I hold fast to a practice guaranteed to spread happiness.

If I hear something good said about someone—when a colleague, neighbor, or family member receives praise for whatever reason—I share the good news with the complimented person. I love a dog named Billy and while he feels the love, I want to celebrate him, with one and all, on the occasion of his 18th birthday. Maybe his birthday toast will spark your telling someone/anyone something good you’ve heard, or think, about them.Dear Billy,

Your small white body wrapped around a huge heart, beating with its distinctive murmur, brings joy now just as it did when I first saw your puppy face. A surprise gift for my mother from me in 1999, independently we both picked you out of the litter. You had presence then—you have even more now.

Here’s a few of the million things that I love about you.

You’re true to your nature. You and my mother failed obedience school twice, never to return. You obey Billy—and it works. You’ve not once come when called, but you show up right on time. The ocean rolls in your seafood buffet and squirrels pose as your personal trainers. You sleep when you’re sleepy, eat when you’re hungry, play when you’re playful, and sniff life’s beauty moment to moment. Your tail wags almost nonstop. Life is good. Life is.

You’re loyal. You walked beside my mother and slowed your frisky stride to match hers. You learned to follow the tennis ball and chase dogs and horses as the two of you watched television. You amused her when no one else could. You kept watch over her. She loved you madly and often told me that I could never love you like she did. But she was wrong. Darn you, irresistible canine.


You’re smart. You ignore comments about your advanced age. Who cares?  While humans remark on your slowing down, every day you outsmart me—squeezing through an open door, pinning  me against  the kitchen counter until I figure out and fix your preferred meal, letting me know when it’s way past time that I stop writing. Somehow I’m making bone broth for the first time ever, all for you. You know when I arrive home without hearing me enter—or do you? How do you know what you know? When you’re tired of walking, you sit. Why didn’t I think of that? When it’s hot, you stretch out in front of a fan. All’s well.

Each day without fail you play the hand you’re dealt. You endured for weeks a poke in the eye, then surgery, topped off by the awful protective cone—all without complaint. You put one paw in front of the other, as usual. And you do it all with style, a bit of a bop in your step, a jaunty cock of your head. You moved in with me over four years ago, your former vacation home becoming your permanent address. You adjusted to life with a cat named Mac, an unthinkable change in attitude required of a terrier who’d long dreamed of universal feline destruction.

You’ve shared much loss with me, our sorrows meshing. As I walked through your back gate, once without my dog Mel and later without my mother, I picked you up and held you, whispering in your ear what your anxious body suspected. Both times you looked at me after I whispered the saddest words, and your body collapsed on my shoulder, head tucked in close. But in a few moments your tail started wagging and gathered speed—and we set out on our next adventure. Recently we sat together when your buddy Mac the cat died at home, two former foes in love forever, you stayed by his side his entire last day. Your best canine friend next door Ike moved away and you missed him, patrolling the neighborhood for any sign of his return. You keep on, no matter what, effortlessly sharing it all with me.

You’re hilarious. How priceless, your clear expressions of annoyance with me. The put-upon sighs on the vet’s table. Though infrequent now, the games you devise with toys and balls. All the ways you conspire to get your way—every single time. You wear mischief well. You turn stubbornness into a virtue.

You're a master teacher. An obedience school dropout, you impart big lessons in good living. I watch closely.


So, happy 18th birthday on Monday June 19th to a boy who would think that what I’ve just written is unnecessary, likely ridiculous. Humans like and thrive on this sort of thing. We're the ones that need reminding to celebrate what's good and true. As for you, your paw lifts, ears back, poised and ready for anything.

I love a dog named Billy, Your sidekick, Marietta