Tinkerbell’s Fourth Birthday
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
Our Tinkerbell turned four yesterday. Of course she doesn’t know that four years ago she was experiencing the world from her whelping pen for the first time. She has no idea that we were anxiously waiting for the email from the breeder saying that there were “puppies on the ground” or that I cried happy tears as I looked at the photos of the newborn pups and wondered which one would become ours. And of course she has no idea what I am saying when I say, “Happy Birthday” except that the tone is joyful and good things like new treats and toys appear when those words are spoken.
Since our favorite pet product store is right next to where crowds were gathered for the local wine festival yesterday, I decided to wait until today to take Tinkerbell on her birthday outing. Today we also had her annual veterinary appointment for her heart worm test so I decided to do her birthday trip right after that. That would also mean I only got one sad look from Jackson as we left the house without him.
Of course I needed gas in my car, and if you’ve been reading this blog long enough you’ll remember that Tinkerbell is not a fan of me getting out of the car without her. This time I thought I had her outsmarted; I was ready. She was secured in her harness and doggie seat belt in the front passenger seat to keep her from trying to follow me out of the vehicle, which worked until she stepped on the seat belt release button, but at least I had gotten out without the same dramatic struggle as the last time or a fear of her running loose through a crowded gas station.
After I had paid at the pump, put the pump into the gas tank, and selected the type of gas, I looked up to see her staring at me accusingly from the back seat, her face pressed up against the glass and her distinctive brown eyes practically glaring at me as if to say, “you left me in here again!” If only Illinois would embrace the full service gas station like my home state of New Jersey, filling up with a velcro dog in the car would be much easier.
Once I got back into the car she wrapped her front paws around my arm and laid her head on me as if to say, “No, Momma, do not do that again!” It had never occurred to me that we needed to train this during puppyhood, since I don’t leave the dogs alone in the car. The gas station was the one situation that had completely slipped my mind.
We arrived at Go Dog Go, our favorite local pet product store. It is now part of the growing Chicago based Bentley’s chains of stores, but in my mind it is still Go Dog Go, with the same awesome staff and the same small business atmosphere. Tink recognized where she was and could barely contain her excitement as I gathered my purse, keys and got a secure grip on her leash before exiting my SUV.
For all of her massive amounts of energy at home, she is hands down the best dog I have had in a store. She politely sniffed all of the baskets of pigs ears and bully sticks on the lower shelves, systematically moving down the row but never trying to snatch something on her own. Those baskets always remind me of the rows of candy at the grocery store at child height; of course the goal is for the parents to not be able to say no.
We moved along and she sniffed all of the toys, first the Planet Dog Orbee Tuff options, then the West Paw Designs choices. Since we have most of those and I know her love of stuffed squeaky toys, I directed her to the Fluff n’Tuff section. Her tail wagged furiously as she checked out the options. I showed her the giraffe because of my love of April the Giraffe, but she snubbed it in favor of a giant stuffed bear that she grabbed off the shelf herself. I looked at the price sticker and put it back, “Let’s look for a less expensive toy for you to rip to shreds,” I told her and she wagged her tail happily as she grabbed an alligator off the slat board display. “Do you want another alligator?” I asked her, and she wagged her big thick otter tail even faster. “Ok, let’s take the alligator home!”
Before checking out I grabbed three birthday cookies and a pink and white dog birthday cake. One of the cookies was for her to eat in the car without Jax trying to snatch up her crumbs, and the other two were to let Jackson join the celebration, just like we had done for his birthday in March. Although a 2008 study showed that dogs do have a sense of fairness and understand if one dog is getting treated better than they are, in this situation Jax probably would have never have known if Tink was dining on cookies while out on her adventure, but let’s face it, I just love to spoil them. After all, isn’t that the whole point of having a dog, to make them happy and do fun things with them?
At the end of the day, this whole birthday celebration is 100% a human thing. I would spoil them every day if my budget would allow. We would have doggie cake daily if I had not made a “no fat Labs” promise to my breeder to keep my dogs at a healthy weight. Later tonight I am going to cut the cake in half and maybe even sing a bit of “Happy Birthday” as we celebrate the day that this sweet girl was born. And while I write about how dogs are not furry humans, that we need to honor the fact that they are dogs, I’m pretty sure picking out a new toys and wolfing down some cake are concessions that my dogs are willing to make.