SGLY: My sweet girl

By Tiffany Chartier
Special to the Prosper Press

Growing up, my dad was an avid hunter. He raised bird dogs as a hobby. These animals were not pets, nor did I ever look at them as such. They trained hard, had registered names, and did their jobs well. When I had my own family, our children wanted a pet, specifically a dog. We tried several times with various breeds, and each time, I gave the dogs away to families with more patience than me. One of my worst parenting moments was giving away the puppy that Santa brought the kids. I am reminded of this event from time to time, even though my children are now grown. Not my finest moment.

My temperament compliments being dogless. I have never kept a dog, but I can say for the last 15 years I have been honored to keep the company of a faithful companion. If you saw Freckles you would believe she was a dog. She looks like one with her four legs and black and white fur. She wears a black and white daisy collar with her name and our phone number etched on the backside of a pink painted token. We received her through an animal rescue organization when someone found her as an abandoned puppy. Freckles is an amazing success story — mine equal to hers. We found one another, and in many ways, rescued one another.

Doing life with Freckles is as natural as pouring my morning cup of coffee. We have our routines set with both of our biological clocks. She senses when I am tired, ill, joyful, stressed, lonely, peaceful, and focused. Freckles is, without a doubt, the most constant tangible source of calm and comfort I have ever known, and I am so very thankful for her. I feel somewhat foolish being in love with a dog, but as I said, I do not consider Freckles a dog or a pet. She is family. She is my friend. She is a true companion.

Freckles has remained by my side through all my health issues — literally. She has been my armrest, my heated blanket, and my protector. She walked with me after my surgeries, keeping my slow pace even though I knew she wanted to run. And when I could not walk, she sat beside me on the couch while I struggled to find a comfortable position. She kept still until we both lulled ourselves into sleep.

Despite whatever the day brings, Freckles is faithful to welcome me with a wagging tail and a pink tongue. She knows me, often leading the way into the kitchen or closet, keeping me on schedule. She offers no criticisms when I ask her opinion on work outfits, and she never criticizes me on the weekends when I keep my pajamas on all day and flip my hair on top of my head in an 80s scrunchie. Freckles does not chide me for staying up too late writing, and she is a patient audience for when I share stories and confessions that no other ears have heard. And I can honestly say Freckles has seen the bulk of my tears — more than I have ever shown to anyone. She has been my secret audience for the millions of times I have danced around the house pretending to be a ballerina. On several occasions, Freckles has danced with me. Her kindness and gentleness are unmatched. She loves unconditionally, and I hope she thinks the same of my love for her.

Forgive me for sounding so child-like in the way I describe Freckles; I have never known this type of relationship before her. And for those who have ever had that one special cat or dog in

your life, then I know you can relate. You know what it is like to do life with them — what it feels like to come home and be welcomed by friendship on four legs.

The week of Christmas my beloved Freckles took her last breath. She passed in the arms of my three children as we drove to the emergency vet clinic. We did not make it in time. My sweet girl. My sweet, sweet girl.

This is the first column I have written in 15 years where she has not been sitting next to me. Her bed is empty, and the room is noticeably vacant. I did not realize the warmth she brought my soul until I felt the chill of her absence. I realize now the big space Freckles filled.

I know this article is very different from my usual, but I felt the need to pay tribute to all the special animals who have ever filled our lives with companionship and love. You know them by name. Whether it be the ones who saw us grow up or the ones who saw us grow old, I give thanks with you to them — these true companions — for blessing our lives so authentically and gently. Thank you, dear ones, for your love and your life.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Chartier

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.