His name's YODA," Annie said, all puffed up with satisfaction. "Just look at those ears."
His ears were extra-long and pointy. His nose was extra-long and wet. His back was extra-long and slightly bowed from holding his belly off the ground. His legs were extra-short.
"Looks like somebody put the wrong legs on him," I said. "What kind of dog is he?"
"A Corgi," Annie said. "Isn't he the cutest?"
"Looks sort of funny. Where'd he come from?"
"He's yours," Annie said. "I got him for you."
"Like you got that new bedspread for me, and the curtains in the guest bedroom for me, and the dining room rug for me, and those chickens for me, and ..."
"Yep, just like that," Annie said.
YODA came into our lives completely laid-back. He never barked. He seemed perfectly happy to wait at the door until somebody let him in. He was OK with my scratching his ears -- or not. He was delighted to eat, if filling his food bowl wasn't too much of a bother for us. He carried his empty water bowl around, flipping it into the air every now and again, hoping somebody'd notice. He liked to ride in the car, preferring the front seat, but OK with the back.
He wandered the farm, checking things out in a detached, unhurried YODA-like way. BC the Barn Cat took a swipe at him. No big deal. He waddled on to the next thing. Nothing seemed to surprise him.
"He's the perfect dog," I told Annie. "I'm starting to like him."
"He's sweet," Annie said. "Doesn't do much. Reminds me a lot of you."
A few weeks later, daughter Jolie came home for a visit -- all the way from New York City. She fell in love with YODA.
"That's my dog," I said. "Don't even think about it."
YODA is now my constant companion. He sits beside me in the car, sits besides me at my office, sits beside me in the car again, sits beside me on the porch in the evening, sits beside me while I read the newspaper and listen to a Mariners game on the radio, sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed, even lies on the bath mat while I take a shower.
"We're soul mates," I told Annie.
"You're starting to look alike, too," Annie said. "Maybe we should put YODA on a diet."
In human terms, YODA and I are about the same age now -- old. We share lower back problems, creaky hips, and seasonal issues with post-nasal drip. As you may have surmised, we avoid movement, except when taking our daily exercise -- a long walk up Main Street, past Whitman College, to the end of Boyer, and back.
YODA marks each and every tree along the way, making sure visitors to our valley know we want them to love our town but not get too attached to the shrubbery. He considers it a public service.
He likes menacing squirrels from the end of his leash. According to YODA, squirrels belong in trees where God put them, not on neighborhood sidewalks.
Folks -- mostly women -- stop us on our walk, ask if they can pet YODA, and throw themselves at his feet. He allows admirers to fawn over him for a few minutes even though they're messing with our routine. YODA now accepts the fact that he's irresistibly cute and must tolerate a certain amount of adoration.
"That dog's a babe magnet," Annie says.
Annie's right, you know, and that has caused me to think about my next life -- in particular, my 16th birthday -- and what I'll ask for. I'm thinking about a Corgi ... instead of a fast car.
If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings and pre-order Sam's new book, BIG APPETITE, visit his website at www.sammcleod.net