My son was moving out.  Leaving home. And he was taking his two dogs with him. The thought struck me like a lightning bolt. My house would not have a dog in it. My husband and I had been married for over thirty-five years and we had never been without a dog in our lives for any significant length of time.

When we were first married we adopted a poor starving dog that strayed onto our property and into our hearts. We named him Hap and thought we could save him but he couldn’t accept the kindness of strangers and eventually he wandered away and never returned.

After Hap’s departure we found an English Shepherd that we named Maggie Mae. She did not much like being inside and preferred to roam the neighborhood. We lived in rental property and had no way to fence her in. But I doubt she would have tolerated such an existence. We lived in a small community where everyone knew everyone. And everyone knew Maggie. She made friends with all the neighbors and had a daily route, which led to every friendly, dog loving soul within a mile radius. Whether at the grocery, gas station, or church we were frequently apprised of her visits and how they saved treats for her – biscuits or bones or leftover stew. At length she disappeared as well. I have always suspected that someone stole her because she was such a beautiful girl. In vain we called her and continued to look for her for many months.

When we bought our first house we had a cat that we enjoyed. But cats can be solitary, mysterious creatures and as much as you might love them you always have the feeling that you are serving them – which is not the same connection you have with a dog that is always happy with your company. And when we moved to our second house (which turned out to be our forever home) a friend offered our four-year-old daughter a spunky little terrier that she named Sparky. He was lively and just right for a young girl. But he was also adventurous and would often slip out of the gate and be off like a shot. On one of his forays into the neighborhood he got into some poison, became ill and died. It was a sad and terrible experience.

Our daughter, Whitney, mourned Sparky and wrote notes to him about how much she loved and missed him. And so when I heard that some friends had collie puppies I thought we should see if a puppy would cheer her.  Whitney chose what appeared to be a ball of fluff and named him Scottie. His actual name (he had a for real pedigree – the first ever in my life) was proclaimed to be “Whitney’s Lad from Scotland”.  Collie puppies are full of energy and Scottie was no different. Scottie’s father, Jonathan Livingston, was the largest collie I’d ever seen – and Scottie certainly inherited that gene. Although Whitney was only five she was a good pet owner and she took Scottie for a walk every day to burn off some of his puppy energy (although he still chewed on everything you didn’t want him to and got into trouble on a regular basis).  One of our neighbors would report to me frequently, “I saw Scottie taking Whitney for a walk yesterday.”  And that was about the size of it. Eventually Scottie mellowed and he adopted all the humans in our household – guarding each of us through the night by moving from room to room and settling by each bed for a turn. When our son, Alex, was born Scottie lay often by the crib and was intensely interested in the new human in our house. Alex learned to read with his arm around Scottie’s neck as the dog sat patiently listening to every word. When my son took to sleeping on his closet floor Scottie allowed his huge fur coat to serve as a comforting body pillow.  And once Scottie fended off a swarming nest of angry yellow jackets as he circled my small son to take their painful stings himself.  He continued barking and snapping at them until I was able to rescue little Alex from the attack. Scottie loved my children without measure. He died the summer before Whitney left for college. We had a funeral service under the grapevine in our backyard, lit incense, read Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, and sang “Amazing Grace”. All four grandparents, a friend of Alex’s, and a friend of Whitney’s joined us in mourning him.

Whitney did not want to leave her brother alone without a dog friend so they began to research what kind of dog might suit our family.  I asked them to consider a more manageable size and less hair. They settled on a Cairn Terrier. Alex thought since the breed hailed from Scotland that it would be a nod to his beloved Scottie. Cairns are small and do not shed. We found a Cairn pup – the last in the litter – who seemed to be waiting for us to come pick him up.  And we did.  He was a little butterball of black fuzz. The kids named him Bilbo Baggins after their favorite character from J.R.R.Tolkein’s fantasy adventure “The Hobbit”. This dog turned out to be a whole other story for another time.  Suffice it to say, Bilbo was an Alpha male who constantly vied for leadership of our family pack. This made bonding with Alex impossible and after multiple failed attempts at Dog Training – yes! He failed the Good Citizenship test –  we eventually accepted the fact that Bilbo only grudgingly acknowledged leadership from ME.  That left Alex still without a dog and after some time I gave in to Alex’s pleas to get a Sheltie.  I had only known a couple of Sheltie’s in my time and they were all exuberant dogs – a little crazy, to be honest – and I worried that Alex wouldn’t be able to manage such a creature. 

Serendipity found us at the home of a couple whose sheltie had given birth to a litter of five puppies. One of them waddled over to Alex and settled her fluffy fanny directly onto Alex’s foot, claiming him to be her person from that moment forward.  And so he was. Alex named her Cristina and I never saw her crown but I’m very sure she owned one. Cristina was a beauty, quite regal, perfectly calm, and steadfast in the knowledge that Alex belonged to her. Bilbo fell completely in love with her and, totally under her spell, allowed her to reign supreme. Bilbo lived to be thirteen and died of liver cancer.  By then Cristina was five years old and Alex thought it would be good to have a companion dog – although I suspect he had realized that dogs don’t live as long as humans and another dog would be insurance of a sort. Alex loved Cristina’s herding instinct and wanted to bring another herder into our pack. And that’s how we ended up with a corgi named Einstein who did not herd anything except treats and toys. By the time Einstein was five and Cristina was ten Alex had landed full-time work hours and wanted to live on his own.  We began apartment hunting for dog friendly places.  And that is when the realization hit me that Alex and his pups would be leaving.  Having got used to having two dogs I could not imagine having zero dogs.

My husband and I discussed dog possibilities and, not relishing the idea of puppy training, thought we might look at adult rescue dogs. We investigated a local sheltie rescue since we had enjoyed Cristina’s company so much. The organization came out to do a home inspection and we passed with flying colors.  However, each available dog was rife with problems – not housebroken, known for excessive barking, serious health problems, and etcetera. We were disheartened and looked at another local shelter that housed all sorts of dogs, mainly mutts. I scanned their website daily – too big, too small, not housebroken, too energetic. I wasn’t discouraged, as there seemed to be an abundance of dogs looking for a home.  Then one day I clicked on the sight and there was a dog looking back at me with the most soulful eyes I’d ever seen. The shelter had dubbed her “Lorelei” and described her as a “hound mix” that had lived as a stray.  She was what I considered a medium sized dog and weighed in at thirty pounds.  I showed her picture to my husband and he said, “Sure. Let’s go visit her.”

I made an appointment with the rescue facility to meet “Lorelei” along with our daughter.  I thought an extra set of eyes and a dose of common sense couldn’t hurt when making such a commitment.  Once there the workers brought “Lorelei” out to meet us.  She was friendly and we started off with her on a leash to see how she responded with that.  “Lorelei” was uncertain but docile. We had a ball with us and when we removed her leash and threw the ball she surprised us all by “fetching” it as naturally as if we had been playing this game with her since she was a pup. She seemed to be a happy dog and fetched untiringly and stayed easily with us as we roamed the large property. “Lorelei” was a black and tan, short-haired hound that seemed to be part beagle and part some other kind of hound. Her ears were floppy but too short to be a real beagle. They were more like those of an English Foxhound. She looked like a dog wearing a coat that belonged to a blue-tick hound with large black spots – as if she’d gone to a dog party and took the wrong coat from check out.  She was simply a puzzle.  It was her eyes that won us over. They were lined with black like Cleopatra’s kohl black accent and colored a deep rich brown like melted chocolate and sadder than any dog I’d ever seen – as if she knew a loneliness that I could only imagine.  My daughter voted “yes” and so did my husband and the next thing I knew she was in the back seat of our car riding home with us.  I had elected to sit in the back with her – uncertain of how she might handle the car ride.  The minute I crawled in beside her and gazed up at her I knew her name could never be “Lorelei” and I said to my husband, “We should call her Lollipop.”  I had never known a dog by that name and had never entertained such a thought. It was as if she “told” me that was her name.  My husband agreed and when he said, “Do you want to be Lollipop?” she looked quite agreeable.

On the ride home a sense of dread washed over me. It felt like “buyer’s remorse” and I told my husband that we had made a mistake.  We didn’t need a dog and we didn’t need her.  We should take her back to the shelter. And the more I said these words the more sure I was that we needed to return her – that we shouldn’t keep her.  My usually amenable husband was silent as I raved on.  Finally he told me very firmly that we were not taking her back, that we were going home, and that we were definitely keeping her. I railed at him that if that is how he felt that she was going to be HIS dog – not mine. I didn’t want her! What had I been thinking???

My husband calmly pulled the car to the side of the road, moved from the driver’s seat to the back seat with Lollipop. Then he told me that since she was going to be his dog he would sit with her and that I should drive them home. “Fine by me,” I pouted and I got under the wheel and drove the three of us home.  Once there my husband did all the things that needed doing for her.  He took her to investigate her new home and backyard and he fed her. He talked to her and petted her. I staunchly ignored her. At bedtime she came into our bedroom and curled up in a small ball on the floor right next to my side of the bed.  I agreed to let her be since it was her first night but vowed that wasn’t going to be her “place”.  The next morning my husband let her out to potty and fed her.  When we went to the grocery store later on he decreed that she should learn to hang out with us. Okay. I shrugged. It was raining and when my husband went into the store I agreed to walk Lollipop in the parking lot with an umbrella. Then we waited by the store’s entrance for him to finish shopping.  Lollipop sat patiently by me and looked up at me now and again for reassurance.  I tried not to look into her eyes and continued to hold to the notion that she was my husband’s dog alone – not mine!  And I continued in this vein of thinking until the next day when my husband left for work and, not being confident that she would stay within our fenced back yard, I agreed that I would take her for a walk.  I had Lollipop on a slip leash because I thought I could manage her better.  Unfortunately, I had not counted on a large, loud trash truck startling her and her ducking out of the leash and racing down the street without me.  For the briefest of moments it occurred to me that if she ran away we would be rid of her but my naturally tender heart also melted as I thought of how she would be alone and scared and hungry – a stray once again – living life the best she could manage on her own.  I took off after her as she fled with tail tucked down the street nearly a half block ahead of me. As I ran I realized I was no match for her speed and felt a flood of guilt at my previous wish that she would just run away.  I figured calling her would be useless, as she surely did not know my voice or her name.  Still I called out, “Lollipop!”  And to my surprise she turned toward me and came running back, seeming glad to see me. I couldn’t believe it!  When she drew near she lifted her head to accept the leash and I knew she wasn’t going anywhere. 

Later at home I called my friend, Maureen, and laid out the whole mixed up story of adopting this mutt and my crazy feelings.  I was nearly in tears when I finished and breathed out, “What in the world is the matter with me? Do you think I’m going crazy?”

Maureen responded with her usual keen insight, “Linda, this isn’t about a dog.”

“What do you mean?” I queried. And she landed this nugget of wisdom right into my heart,

“This is about Alex leaving home.” 

And in that very instant I knew she was exactly right.  Later, after our telephone conversation ended, I apologized to Lollipop. As I put my arms around her soft head, I realized that she also knew the truth as well and would never hold my insane reaction to her against me.  And from that moment on she began walking me to the other side of an empty nest.  She knew that was her job in life all along and I could never have done it without that sweet dog, my Lollipop. 


  1. Judy says:

    She was a great girl and I miss her, too, cuddling on your couch together & chasing whatever toy was thrown. Rest in peace & love, Lillipop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She was the best. I sure do miss her face.


  2. Lollipop’s story is the sweetest dog story I’ve ever read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anne. We’ve had some great dogs. Lollipop was a special girl. She died unexpectedly in June 2020. I miss her sweet face every day. We had rescued a mutt named Rosie (an aussie mix) a few years after we got Lollipop. But once Lollipop left us we all had a hard time. Rosie shared our grief and became so depressed that we ended up rescuing another dog (a beagle named Honey) about 6 months later which helped her not to be so lonely. They are both sweet girls but I think of Lollipop every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. heimdalco says:

    I’m glad I waited until I had time to read this lovely post. While I am a cat person, there’s just no substitute for that special one … cat or dog … that truly touches our heart & forms an unexplainable bond. I cried at the end while reading this. Just lovely. Lollipop stole my heart, too

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Linda. Lollipop was mighty special. She died quite unexpectedly in June 2020. We were devastated. We have another rescue (aussie mix) named Rosie who depended on Lollipop and became so depressed that we ended up adopting another rescue (a real beagle) named Honey in December 2020. It cheered Rosie and we love her but I think of Lollipop nearly every day.


  4. Kudos to you for adopting rescue dogs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s always the question of who rescued who – ya know?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha never looked at it that way! Good one Linda💕

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Awwww, you took my heart from sad to glad in this post! Thank goodness Lollipop could show you forgiveness and unconditional love! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She was a gift from the Universe, that’s for sure. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Celia Hales says:

    I LOVED this story! I’ve had two cats (at different times), but never a dog, and maybe I missed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is never too late to rescue a dog. Many shelters have senior dogs that are already potty trained so there’s no puppy training involved. Senior dogs may have lost their owners through illness, death or (I cringe to say it) abandonment. Old dogs aren’t as cute as puppies and sometimes they are discarded. Senior dogs can be very grateful. Our Lollipop was estimated to be 4 years old when we adopted her. She only ever went potty outside and was loving and loyal to her last breath. Let me know if you decide to bring a dog into your life. I predict you won’t regret it.


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