Erin is my best friend—and my sweet girl. She’s getting old now, but thirteen years ago, she was a little pup who easily fit into my arms and won my heart. I didn’t name her. Someone at animal protection did, but as a lover of the Emerald Isle, I never considered changing her name.
An animal protection agency had invaded an area bookstore. The group showcased several puppies and kittens for sale. I looked at a round ball of fur wagging her tail and was smitten. She was a vision of auburn fur and white paws. My hair color minus the white socks! She could be my kid minus the long snout and four legs! I’d never seen a prettier puppy. The shelter workers told me she was probably part Corgi and part Sheltie.
Of course, I already had a dog and was living with my unwell mother. The sheltie we already owned was beautiful, prissy, aged, and set in her ways. My mother also was set in her ways. Mama said she and Myah, the Sheltie, were on the same speed. (My mother had an amazing sense of humor all her life.) Myah didn’t like this puppy that had invaded her space. Erin wanted to play too often and even grasped Myah by the fur. The Sheltie was horrified! How impertinent, whipper -snapper! The old dog would bark at the puppy and move behind the safety of a bookcase.
When Myah died, Erin took over as princess of the house—not that her new rank altered her mischievous personality. She chewed the buttons off a blouse, gnawed her way through an Irish blanket, and tore a hole in my bed sheets. My mother fumed, shook a newspaper at the wild thing, but never struck her. When I trained her to behave well, Erin was rewarded with delectable treats.
After a year, Erin settled down and into our hearts. I held her at night while I watched television. She slept in my arms like a baby. My mother fed her treats, and she followed us around like a shadow. At night, she and I cuddled together, my arm thrown over her. In the morning, I would awaken to find her so close she was almost in my skin.
When my mother was really ill, Erin was her four-legged bodyguard and best friend. She adored the sitters and watched the home health people with suspicion as they worked on my mother. She remained alert to my mother’s every need. If Mama called for me at night, she jumped on the bed to awaken me. She stood in the doorway, poised, until I was up and tending to my mother. Only then would she jump back into my bed and hurl herself onto the pillows.
Now, my precious girl is an old lady. She is susceptible to infections and has back trouble. Two weeks ago, she woke up and couldn’t walk. She’s better now, but I know that old dogs—like old people—don’t live forever. That crushes me. She’s been my best friend and little baby for a long time.