Ripley’s Birthday

Today is Ripley’s birthday. She is five years old.

Ripley is my sweet, adorable, smart, loving, yellow lab. She is named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in the “Alien” movies, because at the time I got her, I was having a lot of trouble with nightmares, and I wanted a kick-ass girl to help me fight the bad guys. Upon meeting her, my co-workers teasingly said I should have named her Petunia, because of her far-from-imposing disposition. I believe that, like me, when push comes to shove, the capacity to fight is there – in the meantime, she is a gentle soul.

What do you give a dog for her birthday? Her favorite thing is to spend time with me. So, I brought her to the office. We spent the day at the newspaper. This meant, in addition to lying under my feet at my desk, three trips next door to Kerri’s Hair Salon for dog treats, three walks around town to visit people at the Chamber of Commerce, the Planning & Building Department and the grocery store, and, best of all, a stop at Scoops & Swirls.

At Scoops & Swirls, we walked in and I announced that it was Ripley’s birthday, and I wanted a cup of frozen yogurt for her. The young man at the counter didn’t blink. He said, “Tart?” which is the closest flavor to vanilla. I said sure. He served up a small cup and handed it to me. I asked how much. He smiled and said, “No charge; birthday yogurt is on the house.” Ripley didn’t even have to share.

Now that we are home, she is in her usual spot, at my feet on the floor while I work at the computer in my office. After I change into my pajamas and crawl into bed, she will leap into the air and land full-bodied onto my stomach and chest. She lies that way, stretched the full length of my body, with her head on my chest, for about half an hour each night, until she gets too warm; then she moves to the foot of the bed, or gets onto the floor. She needs that contact, that embrace, to connect with me at the end of every day.

I love this dog. There is no pain, no sadness, no loneliness, no despair that she cannot ease. She makes me laugh more, and smile more easily. Every year we are together, my heart grows a little bit more.

Happy birthday, Ripley. May you have many more.

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