Merle, my Christmas Gift, turns 3

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Merle my male Ridgie turns 3 today. To say that I love this dog is a complete understatement. He is probably the second love of my life, after my husband (and sometimes the first, depending on the day…but shush…don’t tell my hubby). It is true that you probably shouldn’t have favorites, when it comes to your kids or pets, but Merle is most certainly my favorite dog out of all my favorite dogs.

Merle and I have a particularly special bond. I have a very vivid memory of the first day we picked him up. I had chosen Merle based on a picture. He wasn’t “show worthy,” he had an overbite and a few extra “crowns” which in the ridgeback world is considered a flaw. I wanted him nonetheless. The day we went to pick him up it was pouring rain. Our wonderful breeder brought him out to me and put him in my arms. He was such a little thing, shivering from the cold rain. I tried to shelter him in my jacket and as a thank you he kissed my nose. From then on it was love.

I almost lost Merle at about 3 months old. We were out for a walk on a somewhat busy road in Santa Paula, and as people who live in orchards commonly do, we encountered a dog that was off-leash. Before I knew it the dog was chasing toward us and began to attack Merle. Merle, completely uncertain what to do fought back and slipped out of his collar. I tried to grab him but he took off down the street, and ran straight into traffic. I took off like lightening, screaming louder than I ever have before…”STOPPPPP!!!!” My heart was exploding in my chest.  At the same time, my darling husband ran out into the middle of the road and tried to stop oncoming traffic. The speeding sports car that was coming toward us came to a screeching stop within inches of Merle. I ran to him, swept him up in my arms, poor shivering pup. He peed all over my shirt he was so frightened. I think ever since that day Merle has been my special man. I care just a little bit more about his well-being.

See Merle is a little bit like me in that he is pretty clumsy and injury prone. He is so used to me checking him over for injuries that he just rolls over as I approach. Usually he just gets loads of smooches and petting, so it’s alright.

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We originally got Merle as a companion for Kaya, and they certainly love each other dearly. But Merle is no doubt my heart and soul. I love this dog more than words can express. He is the embodiment of love. He loves all creatures, big and small. It emanates through the big smile that is always on his face. He is a constant reminder to me that everything will always be ok if you just breathe and smile.

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Sure, he struggles to figure out how to control his excitement on a walk, but he is still young and learning. Sure he maybe gets a bit jumpy and nibbly when he is happy to see you. All of this is just small change in the light of all the joy he brings me. Merle is one of those animals who has such a pure and gentle soul. You can just see it when you look at him. He is sometimes easily scared, sometimes confident, sometimes a little daft, but his essence is so pure.

When Merle was a pup he used to wake up early, and so as not to wake Kaya after we went outside for morning potty break, he would come and snuggle with me in bed. After about 5 months old he stopped doing that. About a month ago he started snuggling again. It’s funny how these things come in cycles. When he comes to wake me up in the morning he always kisses my nose like he did the day we brought him into our family.

I am not sure where my life would be without Merle. He is without a doubt a big part of what gets me out of bed every day. I mean, how can you not love that face?

A big happy 3rd birthday to my little man. Batman, Merleman, my dude. May we be lucky to have in our lives for a long time.

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