Little kids love me. Little kids and little animals…could be my perfume.
Generally, I keep a respectful distance from animals I don’t know, and hope they’ll afford me the same courtesy. Same with small children, but often, it’s no use.
I’m the person who was sitting in an airport terminal one day, waiting for a plane, when a toddler walked over and said, “Pick me up?”
I’d just watched his dad tell him to sit in a chair and not move until he’d gotten coffee. I knew for sure that I didn’t want to hurt that kid, but wasn’t so sure about the strangers nearby. So I picked him up, and waited with a boy on my hip until his dad came back. The dad was cool about it, and didn’t chew me out like he could’ve for holding is son without parental permission.
I’m also the person who fell in love with a fox last summer because he kept following me around my yard. No, he didn’t ask me to pick him up, but I surely did.
As it happens, my daughter loves animals. It is the pet/kid combo at it’s best. Or worst. We go to pet stores, the humane society, or the petting zoo so she can spend time with animals. And don’t let it be a baby something or ‘nother; you might find her teary eyed with joy.
The last time there was a day off school, my girl suggested we stop by the Humane Society to see if there were any puppies around. Baby animal, kid… I’m sure you can imagine where this story might go. I had a clump of tissues handy for the waterworks, so we went inside.
We were able to visit one, and the moment that puppy climbed into my kid’s lap, I knew we were both lost. They hugged and kissed as though they were long lost friends. My daughter looked deep into the dogs’ eyes, then asked me, “Is she a baby?”
“Does she need my help?”
“She needs for someone to give her a home. I don’t think it’s us. Remember we pinkie promised, before we came in, that nobody was coming home with us?”
My girl sighed, and she stood up to leave without complaint after they’d played for a while. But we both left thinking about her, that puppy. And, you guessed it, we went back for her.
My daughter named her Lucky Dog, after her favorite hot dog cart in New Orleans, but we just call her Lucky. She will be far too big to be a lap dog for much longer, but the girl sees to it that her puppy is rocked to sleep every night and last night she told me, as the puppy drifted off, “I’m the lucky one.”
She is right, in a little kid and puppy dog kind of way.
Sometimes, another living thing will ask for your help, some shelter and maybe house training while they figure out how to make the best of their lives. I get that. But it’s not only the receiver of the help who figures things out, it’s also the helper.
So, when I’m sitting here at my desk, with 19 pounds of snoring puppy resting on my feet, I can only say thanks.