The tiny Sheltie puppy was so cute with her brown and white fuzzy fur. But she did not know how to bark; she just made little squeaky noises. I named her Noelle because she was born on Christmas day, after dinner, according to her breeder.
About a year later, I woke up one night because I thought I heard voices in the living room. I got up and went to see if the TV, radio, or police scanner was still on. Noelle was sleeping on the sofa, and Cricket, the other Sheltie, was fast asleep in her dog bed on the floor. I checked that all the electronics were turned off, and then looked out the window for a car with a loud, blaring radio. Not seeing anything, I walked from room to room and Noelle followed me. She was probably hoping I would stop in the kitchen and give her a little treat.
As I approached the kitchen door, Noelle ran around me, blocking my path. Noelle looked up at me and started those little squeaky sounds. Then she said, “Don’t open the door Mom. There are monsters out there.” I pulled my hand away from the door knob, and flipped up the light switch. Sure enough, there was a mother bear and three cubs on the deck, just like Noelle said.
I turned to look at Noelle and said, “Thank you Noelle; you are becoming a good watch dog.” Noelle looked up at me and surprised me again by replying, “Thank you Mom. I just wanted to protect you from the monsters.” Noelle went on to say, “Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you about the other fur kids that live here, and what they do all day when you are at work.”
“First of all, Cricket, the other Sheltie, does not want to run and play very much; she just lies around most days. Whenever I try to play with her, she growls at me to go away. I know she fell and got hurt last month, but she is just milking it now. If she does not start playing soon, she is going to get fat and be useless as a herding dog. It is written in our genes that all Shelties have a duty to protect the sheep and run off the monsters.” I sat down on the closest chair and was speechless as this little dog went on.
Noelle continued, “Now for those cats – it’s a mystery to me as to their mission in life. The oldest cat, Holly, sleeps all day, and to prove it — she is already fat. She is also very grumpy and hisses at me if I get too close. I know that Holly swatted Cricket once before when she got too close. I did notice a bump on her nose. Maybe it hurts and I think that she should go to that awful place to see the vet. I don’t wish a vet visit on any animal, not even a cat, but I think Holly is sick.”
“As for the other cat, Patches is just plain lazy and he sleeps a lot, too. When we think that he wants to play, we chase him, and just when we are about to herd him into a corner, he jumps on a counter or windowsill where we can’t reach him. Then he has the audacity to look down at Cricket and me and laugh at us with that silly purring.”
Then I heard the music from the clock radio. I looked around and saw daylight streaming in the window. It was morning. Noelle and Cricket were standing next to the bed looking at me. Then Noelle gave me a soft bark, not a little squeaky noise, to say “good morning.”
(We lost Noelle on the last day of August. She was only 6, and it was the worst thing that ever happened. The vets tried everything to save her. She is now waiting with Holly at the Rainbow Bridge.)