The Dog with Sunshine on Her Face

When you see dogs playing outdoors in the mid-day sun, and one of them catches your eye… there are moments when that carefree dog can seem to pass right through an ethereal light, shining down from the heavens. It can seem almost whiter than white, as if a flash of “lightning” were a temporary color in the rainbow palate of dog coats.

And of all the dogs… those that seem to glow the most are the dogs that are blessed with fur that is white… or mostly white… or even partly white.

“See that white dog over there!”

You see, a white dog is always a white dog, even if it is just a mostly white dog. From Bichon to Borzoi… Poodle to Great Pyrenees… they are stunning, eye-catching members of the canine family… a paw ahead of their less colorful kin.

They seem to know that they are “striking.” And, they always seem to have a “White Dog Attitude!” In many ways, they seem related in spirit to the super model.

Now, nothing against darker dogs… reds and tans and golden colored hounds… even big black dogs. It's just that they all seem to absorb the sunlight. They don't radiate it or reflect it the way white dogs do.

From tiny toys, to some very big boys, white dogs all have that characteristic and charismatic attitude. And, when they are freshly washed and blow-dried; with their coats fluffed up and sparkly, they are bright and shiny beacons of four-legged canine fantasy.

And, they know it!

Have you ever seen a dog swagger? Check out the next white dog that you see! Is there a little extra bounce in that walk as they go about their business?

Take a good look…then close your eyes… and

…Think of a bride.

…Think of a white stallion.

…Think of a beauty queen.

These are the spiritual family of The White Dog!

And if you take the time to listen, white dogs will tell you that they are just a little “more” than the average dog. Of course they can do absolutely everything their colorful kennel mates can do. Just ask them. But, they want to make sure you know that they do it with more style, grace and beauty.

My white dog came to me more than a dozen years ago. Though she had an apricot spot on her side… she certainly showed me a Total White Dog attitude from the moment we met. She was regal and in-charge of everything she did.

In her youth, she was a graceful and stunning girl… faster and more elegant than any other dog around. She also had a sense of entitlement blended with her sense of grace. She became the leader of our pack within days of her arrival. The boy-dog she displaced was too in love with her to spend a moment on his loss of pack status.

He was “taken” without a struggle by The White Dog. He was charmed and helpless, smitten and stunned… and very happy!

Our White Lady taught us a great deal over the years. She once cleared our high back fence to personally express her feelings to another dog that had violated her space. We retrieved her safely, without a mark on her. Most importantly to her, she had her say!

She stood bravely alone in our yard one night, scaring away some large, foraging raccoons.

And as months and years wore on, the White Dog assumed total dominance of everything in and around us. She warned new and younger dogs with only a lifted lip or a low growl that hers would be the choices made and the places set. The rare deep bark would indicate her opinion that someone in the canine collection of our home had transgressed.

But her bravest day came during her first and only whelp. There were serious complications, but through it all our brave White Dog never lost her will or composure. Or, her dignity!

After hours of anguish, the vet finally told us that the last of the litter had to be naturally forced out, or we were looking at emergency surgery and we were in serious jeopardy of losing both the pup and the mother. As if she understood every word, our exhausted Elegant White Lady summoned her strength… stood up… and by force of her great will expelled the last puppy.

Finally, she had done her job, and was once again safe.

She was a wonderful mother, seemingly “to the manner born.” She never seemed happier than when she was tending to a puppy that wanted one last draw from its tasty warm source. She was finally fulfilled… a late in life mother.

But time is far less kind to dogs than to man. Dog years are a devil looking for it's due.

Before I knew it, she had become a “senior.” Her graceful steps became a little unsteady. Ice outdoors was a threat that now sometimes mastered her.

But, she never… not ever… lost her grace, nobility and her sense of self. Though she moved far slower now, she always did so with purpose and style.

There was less play in the yard with the other dogs, and far more time on one of the dog beds or on the couches. The smaller leather couch in the family room became her afternoon roost. She would curl up on one side of the seat with her head cushioned on the softly padded arm. The afternoon sun would shine in through the window; the bright shaft starting at her head… and then it would gradually move across the sky, slowly lighting and warming the whole of the White Dog.

She would wiggle and stretch over the minutes, thoroughly enjoying her daily solar shower. She would listen to us… but ignore anything we said that might cause her to move. She would absorb the best Vitamin D from the purest source, and peacefully snooze the afternoon away.

Absolutely a “Dog's Life.”

But those day's moved far too quickly, and all too soon she was drawn to the other side of the sun and to the heavens. My beautiful White Girl was gone. My heart was broken.

Time still has some work to do on the soft wound on my soul. But I always feel her spirit, especially on beautiful sunny days. To me, certain clouds look just like her… fluffy soft whiteness, tightly curled on the small couch.

The rest of our pack reacted more stoically to her passing than I did. Strangely, the dominant dogs sorted out “her places” for themselves. They have an unspoken priority that they all understand. Each took a share of remembrance to covet.

And now, when I spend some time in the Family Room, and I see that shaft of bright, white afternoon sunlight splash on the special corner of my small dark leather couch, I often imagine my White Dog there. She is still quietly absorbing her “sunshine vitamins” …and warmth… and listening to everything I say… with her sweet dark eyes closed. Breathing softly… Deeply… Quietly alert.

And then, she will slowly open her eyes and gracefully lift her head, tilting her face back across her body, toward the window once more, where she is once again bathed in the afternoon sunshine.

Her beauty is lightning bright brilliance, spreading a river of gentle warmth to my heart.

Once… Forever… and Always…

She is my dog with sunshine on her face.

© David Green 2006