Every couple of months I get to dog-sit this grown up puppy and every time he is the same sweet ball of hypoallergenic fur.

When I walk in the door, whether its been months or just a couple of hours, Odie barks to tell me all he has seen. I imagine he is telling me about the squirrel that ran across the lawn, how he scared off the mail monster, and how many pine cones fell from the neighbors tree. A minute or two of listening, and a few scratches behind the ears, leave him satisfied at the report and able to return to his chair.

And Odie really does have his own chair in the living room. For the years I have known his family, chair has belonged to the pup and some of the others have cushions tilted so he won’t claim them as well. A variety of blankets have draped over it to protect the chair and offer cushioning in addition to his fur. Usually Odie’s head lounges on one of the high back corners, providing easy views of the front window and the rest of the house. The last time the couch was an occasional play space but the chair remained the throne.

One of my dog-sitting responsibilities is to take the pup for walks each morning and evening. I took him to the park during an early visit, and learned that was a horrible idea. Now don’t get me wrong, Odie is a sweetheart. Those early barks of update are the only real noise he makes. And growling is very rare and then only part of a game over a ball. No, Odie is the opposite of aggressive or dangerous. He’s a wimp. Whenever there is another dog in sight, immediately he lays down on the ground until either than other dog is close enough for them to smell one another (which the other dog has to initiate) or the other is out of sight. And it does not matter if the other dog is on the other side of the road or a tiny puppy barely bigger than Odie’s bag leg. I’ve had to explain to many humans that this pup is shy and not preparing to leap. Oh, and occasionally he lies down on the ground when he sees a human with really long or fluffy hair.

Every single bark in the doorway and pause on the street is worth it for when its time for bed. Odie curls up onto the bed, using my legs as his pillow and quickly drifts into dreamland. The deep breaths and soft heartbeat are like a security blanket, covering me from any storm outside. That pup’s tongue (and breath) might be my wake up call in the morning, but for now all is peaceful in the house and in the world.

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