“If you don’t mind throwing tennis balls for eternity, I do have an opening in doggie heaven.” – Angel at St. Peter’s Gate, to a man seeking admittance Frank and Ernest comic strip
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.” – Milan Kundera
We have new neighbors in east Tupelo. They seem like good folks. We already know we have at least two things in common: We love dogs. We do not love snakes. (My mother taught me hate is not a good choice in life; otherwise, I’d have expressed more strongly my disdain for the ugly undulators.)
The neighbors have three canines – two adorable puppies and a larger dog named Angel who lives on the other side of our wooden fence.
The first day Angel appeared, my George, the 5-year-old son of a Jack Russell mix and a pedigreed Lhasa Apso, spent a good part of the day between the wooden fence and the chain-link fence.
I could not see George, but I could hear his barking and the beating of his wagging tail on the wood. I also saw him when he emerged, tail first, because once in the tight space, there’s no turning around. A pup can only back out.
In between the two fences, there’s also a large amount of poison ivy.
There are some people who say you cannot get poison ivy from a secondary source. For example, a dog that has rolled in poison ivy, then sleeps beside you, cannot cause you to have an outbreak of the nasty, itchy skin condition.
This is not true. Believe me when I tell you it can most certainly happen.
But, back to the story: George, it seems, is quite smitten with the new gal on the block.
Worried that George might eventually get stuck between the fences, I fixed it so he could not longer go there.
Out of sight, however, did not erase Angel from George’s mind.
There are two boards in our fence that are slightly bowed, leaving a half-inch space between them. I have watched my brown-eyed boy run to the fence, position himself so he can peer through the space and see his beloved.
First, he lets fly a few short, friendly barks, then his tail begins to wag fast and furiously.
I’ve watched him sit for long periods of time, just gazing at his girl.
If I had any doubt of George’s high regard for Angel, all doubt disappeared the day I walked out and saw the gift George had gathered for his girl.
Lying in a straight line in front of the fence’s peep hole were seven of George’s multi-colored tennis balls that he’d moved from every corner of the backyard.
Please understand – my George loves his tennis balls better than just about anything. But he wanted to share with his new friend.
If that’s not love, I’m not sure what is.
Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@journalinc .com or (662) 678-1584.