Simple Gifts

Carol A. Hand

When my beloved dog Cookie died, my heart was broken. We had weathered many challenges during our eleven years together. She survived many moves from her prairie home – to the northwoods, Rocky Mountains, and different Great Lakes region cities. I knew as we shared our last walk together in October of 2013 that no one else would ever take her place. I had no intention of ever adopting another dog. I hoped my grief would pass with time, but instead of diminishing, it only deepened.

By the end of October, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter went with me to see if I could find a larger female dog. (I’m sure I wrote about this adventure, but I can’t find the story anywhere.) When we entered the animal shelter to look, the first dog we saw was Pinto, then tiny, a Papillon/Chihuahua mixed-breed.

Pinto Adoption Photo 1 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 1 – 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 2 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 2 – 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 3 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 3 – 2013




My granddaughter fell in love with him at first sight. Who wouldn’t? I promised her that we would walk him after we tried the two large female dogs that were waiting to be adopted.

I did walk the two larger dogs, Barbara and Ginger. They made me aware of my age and physical strength limitations. Both were powerful, spirited, and emotionally wounded. My daughter laughed heartily at the spectacle of me trying to control Ginger when she started jumping and tugging to avoid going back into the shelter. When I was eleven years younger, Cookie could pull me over and drag me. Ginger almost did the same in the animal shelter parking lot on her maiden walk.

“Maybe a smaller dog would be wiser,” I thought, so it was finally Pinto’s turn. And he was a joy. He didn’t jump and pull. He merely trotted proudly with his butterfly ears in constant, graceful motion and rolled over so my granddaughter could pet his belly. It wasn’t until I went to pick him up a couple of weeks later that the shelter listed his challenges. He had been abandoned so they knew very little about him except the health issues when he arrived and his behavioral challenges. Many of his teeth had to be removed because they were too badly infected to be salvaged. And he was too dangerous to be around children.

We’ve been together for a little over three years now. I’m glad to say it’s been months since we’ve had to deal with a feral incident. Because I’ve agreed to listen to his “no brushing my ears command,” his feral fits only happen occasionally over some forbidden outdoor “treat,” like rabbit or deer droppings or a twig that will be sure to make him choke. His timeout kennel is still in the living room just in case, although my special leather gloves for handling him have been repurposed for outdoor work.

He really is very gentle with my granddaughter.

Ava and Pinto - June 28, 2016
Ava and Pinto – June 28, 2016

I made a choice early on that accommodates my personality. I don’t like to fight or try to bend others to my will. With Pinto, I haven’t tried. I can only imagine why he’s so terrified when the grooming brush approaches in a gentle trusted hand. He snarls and fights for his life. I would rather be the safe person who gives him a place where he can sing even if he’s grown a little plumper and his lovely fur is a little dreadlocked. He really is a gifted singer.



The frozen image on the video clip above doesn’t do him justice.

Pinto - July 18, 2016
Pinto – July 18, 2016

I’m truly grateful for his mellowing presence in my life.


68 thoughts on “Simple Gifts

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  1. What a little sweetheart! Ooops, my masculinity is slipping again. Oh no, I’m in touch with my feminine side again!;-)

    I wonder how Pinto hears this music, what his take is? Is it the soulfulness of these female voices that moves Pinto to sing along, or does it remind him of his long gone pack speaking to the creator?

    Pinto reminds me of my mother’s dog, Pepper, a mixed breed, but the funniest and most intelligent dog I have ever been around. I was in college, and I would practice my chosen instrument, saxophone, and then the Pepper would start howling. At first, I can remember being annoyed with his participation, but one look at his little head up in the air, howling away, always made me laugh. So i would come out into the living room and play for Pepper, and his head would cock this way and that, and then he would commence vocalizing.

    I loved that little guy! I miss him, as I do my parents.

    I’m glad you have Pinto, Carol! And I’m sure Pinto is glad to have adopted you. too!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This is such a delightful story about Pepper, Dave. I love it 🙂

      Pinto is partial to first sopranos – the one’s who can reach the highest notes with crystal clarity. It doesn’t matter what he is doing when they begin singing – he is immediately attentive and can’t resist the urge to raise his head and sing along. And he sings in tune and rhythm. He didn’t sing much when he first came, but now I know he will always sing the “The Flower Duet.”

      Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s good to hear you have a brief respite. These are certainly interesting times. I feel fortunate to have things I can do, although small with no guarantees of long-range impacts. I’m co-teaching a class on social justice trying to inspire students. This week, I’ll also be returning to editing a book manuscript on Native American child welfare intended to educate and touch people’s hearts. Small actions guided by visions of a kinder future we could create by working together and caring enough …

          Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always a treat to hear from you, Tubularsock. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Pinto is a great spirit and such a delight to watch these days as he leaps through the snow.


  2. I love this post, Carol. Your story, the pictures of Pinto, and Pinto with your granddaughter. What a sweet little dog. So glad you adopted him and are happy together.
    Our little one also growled and yelped and ran when we tried to bathe him and dry his hair.He would run up and down the corridor, running into rooms, all the time loudly complaining. Then, at last, he would lie happily under the blow dryer. He made me laugh, and I bet Pinto makes you laugh too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. He is so beautiful. I had to laugh to see you are not his Alpha but must learn to understand what he communicates to you. And of course you do, and he is learning to be gentle. He’s lucky to have found a home with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind and playful comments, Diane. Pinto’s expressions and attempts to communicate touch my heart, and his antics make me laugh. You’re right, he is learning to be gentler, and even sometimes, to play. I think I’m the lucky one. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Carol, you are like me! My best friend is Kira, a mix between Cocker Spaniel and Pomeranian I adopted almost ten years ago. She’s absolutely crazy but I adore her and can’t think on the fact she’s getting old and I’ll lose her…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such delightful comments, Sylvia. I’m not surprised to hear that your best friend is also an adopted dog who’s eccentric. 🙂 Each pet is special and irreplaceable, I still miss Cookie and often think of the lessons she taught me about being peaceful and kind. I don’t regret the decision to adopt Pinto a month after Cookie died. They have little else in common besides the hard lives they had before ending up in a shelter, but both have taught me such important lessons about what’s important in life..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a little dog, Alfie. Alfie is small in stature but HUGE in character and personality, he is a miniature Yorkshire terrier. He loves everyone and everyone loves him back. Alfie has accompanied me with unconditional love, through many journeys over the years we have been together and I am very aware of the loss we will both feel when the other departs so I hope I am not the first to leave, his little heart would break without me in his life. Like you, I have vowed never to have another dog. How we trick ourselves! Alfie is a rescue dog and if I have the choice, I will probably head back to the shelter to give an old dog a loving home. Thank you for this lovely writing Carol. Every time I read your blogs, I am reminded to be kind. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pinto is just adorable. I enjoyed his serenading you. I understand why you and your granddaughter lost your hearts to him. He seems to be thriving because of your love and devotion. I am surprised to hear that he has lost so many teeth. You can\t see that by the pictures.
    I think the dogs choose us, we do not chose the dog. I share your love of dogs. Thanking for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a lovely little guy. His singing was music to my ears! I bet he would get along with Willow. Willow doesn’t roll over, but she recognizes and accepts when another dog wants to be boss. In the world of dogs pride or ego never gets in the way of chasing the ball or getting a scratch on the scruff. Someone long ago said humans were the smartest. We even refused to call ourselves animals. Imagine the arrogance! Lovely picture of Ava. Getting nipped is never bad. Take care. Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind and lovely comments, Bob. I am sure Pinto would love to run and play with Willow, and maybe he would even teach Willow to sing along with The Flower Duet song. That would be something special to witness. 🙂

      Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you and your family. ❤


  8. Pinto is a real sweetie pie (snarly face notwithstanding!). ❤

    I've had many dogs accompany me on my life's journey. Each one has come into my life at the perfect time and with a personality to fit exactly what I needed at the time. The pattern holds with my sweet little Fozzie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry to hear about Cookie. My hubby lost his dog many years ago. Shrapnel incident. A German Shepherd. My hubby doesn’t talk much but I know… Am very happy you found another to love. Ps- lovely granddaughter. And very cute dog. 😃

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Global Residence, and for sharing your hubby’s feelings about the loss of his beloved companion. The memories of love and sadness often remain with us. I am grateful that PInto came into my life and has learned to be kind to my sweet and lovely granddaughter. I send my best wishes to you and your lovely family. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pinto is gorgeous ❤❤❤ Oh my God, what a bundle of joy, Oh my God such lovely fur and look at those adorable paws!!!!
    Am super glad that you have a new friend with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my goodness I was brought to joyful tears with Pintos phenomenal singing. What a sweet soul. I love this story and so happy you and Pinto are journeying together. I can only imagine all the grand adventures you and Cookie had together in 11 years. Animals were my first friends and to this day my best friends. Thanks for sharing ~ hi to Pinto!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your delightful comments, Tori. Pinto is an amazing singer, although I had to chuckle when I read your post about Styx. Pinto was naughty this morning. I think he’s jealous because my granddaughter is here for the week and isn’t always the center of attention at the moment. Now he’s sulking but I have faith he’ll recover soon. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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