There are many kinds of love in this world, and so many different combinations. The mother's love for her children; fathers and daughters; lovers; best friends; the volunteer crossing guards that keep “their” children safe from harm; vendors and their favorite customers; good neighbors; the love of our pets and their love for us. This is a tale about the dog who fell in love with the girl next door.
His name was Deshka, and he was a yellow Lab named after a river that lies a few miles west of Willow in Alaska. His home was in South Anchorage near the bluffs, the location of the “strong winds that blow along the Turnagain Arm”, and he loved to play. He lived a wonderful life with his owners and had lots of friends who would come to feed him or to take him for a walk whenever his “parents” were out of town. One summer, a new neighbor moved in next door, and she was smitten with him, just like the rest of his friends were, but this story is about how smitten he was with her.
They first became friends in the winter, shoveling snow. Well, Therese was trying to shovel snow in her driveway, Deshka just wanted to play Frisbee. So Frisbee they would play, except Therese renamed it “Chase” because the real intent of the game was for Deshka to run her around in multiple circles and to never let her have the Frisbee. But Therese thought that Chase was a really good game because she could see just how much Deshka enjoyed it, so they played Chase whenever Deshka was out after it snowed and Therese came out to shovel the driveway.
It is a long winter up in Anchorage, and the snow finally melted in late April, and her work to construct her new gardens began. Tons of rock and gravel were delivered to make winding pathways to connect the various garden beds in the backyard. Slate rock walkways were laid down to the fence line and arbors were constructed to add charm to the paths and to become the sentries of the landscape when the snow came again. River rock was laid in circular patterns in the front yard to contain spruce gardens and rock garden plants. During this time, Deshka and Therese still played their game of “Chase” although Therese was quicker on her toes without the ice and sometimes Deshka would let her have the Frisbee.
One day Deshka was sitting in his house looking out of the bedroom window and he was wagging his tail. Cindi, his “mom”, was going about her chores, when she noticed his tail wagging and she couldn't help but wonder what had made her Deshka so happy. She'd never seen him do that before when he looked out of that window, which was one of his favorite places to recline when he was inside the house. She walked up to the second story window that faced the street and peered down. Therese was working in the front garden, weeding and taking care of the new rock garden plants. That is the moment that Cindi found out that her dog was falling in love with his neighbor. Therese became one of the regulars feeding Deshka whenever his parents went out of town, and that tail of his kept wagging.
Another winter came, and more games of Chase were played by these two while Therese was out shoveling snow. Then Deshka needed surgery on his leg, and Therese was the one whose duty it was to check on Deshka a couple of times during the day when everyone else had gone to work. They couldn't play Chase anymore, but it no longer mattered. They were good friends now and just seeing each other, sharing pats on the head, and “that a boy's” was enough for them. Cindi gave Therese a cute thank-you card for taking care of Deshka so many times, even though Therese insisted that it was nothing because she lived right next door, and she loved playing with him. Cindi had written the card as if it had come from Deshka. It was actually a valentine card asking if she would be his valentine, and even included some money in it. Therese was tickled to be his valentine and did the only thing you should do if your valentine gives you money, and used it to buy flowers and a take-out meal, then had a great time telling everyone that she had a special valentine that year who had given her flowers and even bought her dinner.
Then it was Therese's turn to have surgery, and she was told that the climate was too harsh for her and that she would have to move back down to “the lower 48”. So she went about the chores that it entailed, and moved away. There were quite a few pretty items that ended up over at Cindi’s house that Therese used to own, just like there were at many of her friends' homes about town, little bits of Therese left for everyone to enjoy and to remember her.
Another winter came and it was time to decorate for the holidays. Cindi was putting out some silk flowers at Christmas to 'deck the halls' and said to Deshka, "look, these are from Therese". Deshka got so excited at hearing her name that he ran down the stairs to the front door, thinking that if the flowers were from her then she must be coming to visit too! Therese wasn't there, but Cindi realized that Deshka's love for her still was. Sometimes, all it takes for us to remember the one we love is to hear their name, and a flash flood of memories comes rushing back. And in this instance, like the many times that it has happened in the past that it has become a special relationship that we have all heard about before, Deshka became a member of a very special club. He was now “one of boys” who would never forget about the girl who used to live next door.