This time, I say it a little louder and try to sound chipper.
For the record, I am not a morning person. If I had my way, I would not string more than six syllables together before noon. Frankly, high-strung, overly cheerful, merry-yellow-sunshine-zippity-do-da morning people make me nervous and just a wee bit cranky.
I am simply being jolly for Lilly's sake.
All I want is the morning paper, a cup o' joe and a little peace and quiet before I join the proverbial rat race and make my mad dash into life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in general and financial gain, specifically.
Truth be told, I am getting older. In dog years, I am almost 280, so give me a break and a chew bone while you are at it.
I am set in my ways.
I am OK with acting my age. Thank you very much.
I start the coffee.
There Lilly is now exuberant from her very waking moment pacing the wood floor. (On the other hand, or should I say on the couch, is my purebred mutt, a true blue-stroke hound. She still is snoozing. What a wise old dog.)
"Wise dog, Terra." I whisper, like that would matter. My old pal is hard of hearing in her old age. An earthquake could let loose and I doubt she would even do that dog-growling-in-her-sleep thing.
Lilly responds to the doggie talk.
"No jump, Lil! Yes, I love you, too. No, no kisses."
Push, play and wait for a hot cup of morning attitude.
Fling open the front door and utter the first hoarse words for the day: "Get the paper, Lil!"
Lilly bounds off the front steps, chocolate Lab pup tail doing an estimated 119 RPMs as she hurls herself headlong off the last step and heads straight down the drive.
Then she spies it. The little stuffed rabbit toy buried during last November's great snow. Up in the air goes the bunny, then back down to earth, or more accurately, into the muddy puddle once known as my front yard.
That's it, now roll with it. That's it. Chew on the remaining perky ear.
Deep breath. The book says, "Be patient. No serious training for the first year."
She is just a pup.
Oh, it smells so good out here. Why does morning air smell so sweet and thick? Not a cloud in the sky I wonder what the forecast says?
I receive one, once white, now gray, soggy-slobbered bunny, minus an ear.
Lil's tail wags even faster.
I giggle at the thought that if that tail wags any faster Lil will be airborne at any moment. Clear the launching pad for takeoff.
Oh, pets. "Good girl, yes!"
Her paws are stretched out in front of her, rump high in the air, waggling. If only I had a camera.
Scratch the posterior. Yup. Oh, life is good. Life is so-o-o good, huh, Lil?
OK, let's take it from the top.
"Get the paper, Lil."
Oh, goodie, goodie, goodie! Four legs, two ears and a tail catapult enthusiastically, free falling, off the steps.
Yes! She's got it! She's headed straight for the paper.
"The paper, Lil. Get the paper."
Three turns. Squat.
Oh well, at least she's potty trained.
She produces a steaming pile, front and center.
Do I see green grass? How lovely is that?
Four more pets and we're off.
"Get the paper, Lil."
This time I remember to follow through by stepping forward with my right foot and right arm (like the book says, my gun arm.)
"Good girl. Good, Lilly! Yes! That's it. Now bring it here, Lil.
Round and round the yard goes the brown pup, round and round goes the local, national and world news, encapsulated in a blue plastic baguette. Now it is airborne wheeeee.
If tail is to dog what neon sign is to human, then the tail is screaming, "I'm so happy, I'm so happy, I'm so darned happy. I can't stand it, I am soooo happy."
The birds seem to agree. Do I hear birds? Are there now three varieties?
I listen intently and promise myself to look up indigenous birds.
Once more, then I'm getting the paper myself.
What do I hear? Crystal clear, the chirping squirrel!
Lilly points! Look at that tail, nice and straight.
My eye follows the dog, who drops the paper and follows the squirrel.
Up, up the tree.
I step off the porch to intervene and smile at the nice neighbor driving by. I try not to hydroplane on the last remaining puddle. Oh, yes, so glad I wore the big red plaid robe and rubber boots.
Squish, squish, squish.
"Get the paper, Lil!"
Nod, point, follow through straight at blue baguette.
There she goes.
Score. She's got it!
Paper secure in jaws, she's coming back to me.
"Good girl, Lil.
"Bring the paper, Lil.
"Bring it here."
Folly, frisk and rumpus. Up, up, up in the air so high Lil tosses the paper. Then she gives me the I'll-give-it-to-you-if-you-chase-me-for-it look.
Six laps, wave at three very smiling, laughing, holding their sides while they drive by neighbors.
"Good girl, Lil."
Snatch the paper.
Lil tries to grab the paper.
"No," I say, but I fail to sound cranky. "I have it now and I'm not giving it back.
"Yes. I love you, Lil."
"Good girl, Lil. Go get the bone."
Lil fetches the bone without hesitation.
Blow dry front page. Coffee's hot.
Glance into living room to see Terra still snoozing on couch.
Jacqueline J. Michels, who lives in Soldotna, is the mother to four grown children, one pre-kindergartner, 12 chickens, four ducks, two dogs, two cats and one very pesky adopted squirrel. The family plans on adopting two goslings and one big-eyed goldfish this summer.
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