When Piper walks to the park, she skips and dances. She frolics under cherry blossoms. She makes up songs and sings them loudly. She keeps her eye on me to make sure I’m following.
If she meets a dog along the way, she looks back for my permission. I look to the owner to see if we know them and to the dog for a sign of friendliness. If I nod, Piper crouches low and holds out her hand. She holds her body still. As much as a Piper can, anyway; stillness is not her default setting.
Meeting a dog on the way to the park is Piper’s favorite thing in the whole world. Suddenly, she’s not on a walk to the park. Piper is petting a dog.
A Piper is always on a journey. She often forgets her destination. There are cherry blossoms and dogs and songs. Maybe there is a park on the other end of the path. Maybe not, but a Piper is sure there will be an adventure.
Piper has decided what she’d like to do with her life. Those of you who know her animal loving ways won’t be surprised much. Piper’s never met a four-legged stranger.
This morning while I was braiding her hair, Piper asked, “Mom, what would you do if you had a lot of money?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Seems like we have most of what we need. Maybe help other people?” It was 6:02 a.m. and I hadn’t had coffee. Forgive me for neglecting a teachable moment.
“I’d open a mall just for dogs. Then I could let them go to the doggie spa all day. There would be parks for playing and fresh water bowls everywhere. In fact, I’d hire one person just to go around cleaning and refilling water bowls.”
“And what would you do at the mall, Piper?”
“Oh, I’d cure cancer. Nobody deserves cancer but especially not dogs. I’d have my own lab with a big window so I could watch the dogs play while I worked. Then they’d bring in the sick ones and I’d make them better.”
Piper is ready to write her memoir. She told me so at lunch.
“Mom, when I’m six, I’m going to write a book about my life. I’ve lived a lot, you know. And there will dogs in my book. Lots of dogs. I’ve petted a lot of dogs.”
True. Very true. All of it. Can’t wait to read it. I’ve even picked out the cover photo.
Yesterday Piper and Sissy went to a theater arts camp. The day’s theme was Dr. Seuss. They wrote their own scenes, designed their costumes, and memorized their lines.
After the play, they read all of Dr. Seuss’ books and did related art projects. One of the activities was based on “Green Eggs and Ham” and the girls made lists of “like” and “do not like.”
She likes dogs, raspberries, goldfish, dogs, unicorns, chocolate, Iphones, books, gold necklaces, and dogs.
“I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t like, Mom,” Piper said. “I kind of like everything. It’s a beautiful world.”
Piper made her NCAA picks this week. She chose mostly based on the team’s mascots. She’s partial to birds, dogs, and cats, of course. After a lot of simulated animal noises to imagine the battles, Piper picked…Marcats to win it all. Meow.
Piper’s dreams are simple: she wants a dog or she wants to be a dog. She also wants chocolate for every meal. Oh, and she wants me permanently attached to her side. Just in case she needs some chocolate.
This morning at our church’s Christmas pageant, one of Piper’s dreams came true. She was transformed into a dog. She got to bark and sleep on stage and generally misbehave. She wore dog ears and a dog nose, which made dog noises when you squeezed it the right way. Just so you know dogs don’t behave just because Baby Jesus decides to make an appearance. Neither did Piper. Fortunately, misbehaving animals were in the script.
The innkeeper’s wife, otherwise known as Sissy, shoed the dogs, donkeys, sheep, etc. out of the barn to make room for Mary and her baby. Sissy called them “filthy animals.” It was in the script. She’s usually not so harsh. Piper the dog understood, even though she’s not used to Sissy speaking to her in such a manner. “It’s ACTING, Mom. I get it.”
A Piper loves dogs. Really. She’s been talking about dogs as long as she could talk. She’s never met a dog that she didn’t fall for. The bigger, the smellier, the dirtier, the better. She likes small, yappy ones, too. One of my favorite pictures of baby Piper is of her hanging on to the underside of our dear friend’s lab, Cocoa. Piper crawled under their kitchen table to cuddle with Cocoa. Cocoa tried to get some space, but Piper held on until she was covered with enough Cocoa to blend. And every night Piper sleeps on top of Junie, an enormous stuffed black toy of questionable breed. Junie doesn’t seem to mind the drool.
Our new neighbors have dogs. We’ve met dozens. They’ve all licked Piper’s face and rolled around on the ground while we exchange pleasantries and introductions with their owners. Daisy is the dog a few doors down. Tazmanian, a chihuahua (be still Piper’s beating heart!), lives across the row from our townhome. Then there are the matching poodles. The list goes on.
“Mom, I love our new place,” Piper declared. “It’s like dog heaven. But they’re still alive.”