The importance of being Ernest

It's hard to believe four years have passed since I drove to Ligonier, IN to decide which four week old puppy would eventually come home with me. I like confident dogs, and when Ernie fell asleep with a stranger holding him, I knew he was the one. He was unflappable at four weeks and hasn't changed a bit since.

I got a sign that evening of another aspect of Ern's personality: his single-minded devotion to his own comfort. There were four puppies in the litter, and three of them were huddled together asleep. When we put Ernie down, he walked over, looked at them, and then climbed on top and went to sleep himself. His sister's wails of protest didn't phase him one bit. He snored away while the others wiggled beneath him. He's been climbing on me, hogging the couch, and stealing my pillows ever since.

I went back to pick him up when he was 8 weeks old. He'd grown a good bit and resembled a fuzzy brick with small legs and big brown eyes. He'd gotten cold that morning, so the breeder bought him a red argyle sweater to wear on the drive to Indy. As she passed him off to me, I learned something else about Ernie: nothing interrupts his naptime. He was passed from the breeder to me, put in a car, and driven off, and he only woke up for the briefest moment to give us a hard stare for disrupting his sleep. Only 45 minutes later did he wake up, poke his brown face out of the box, and try to figure out what was going on. That's Ernie, always keeping his priorities in order.

While he can be a pampered little bull of a dog, he's also one of the happiest and most loving animals you'll ever met. He worked as a therapy dog at a nursing home and always seemed to know exactly what to do. He was exceedingly patient as he was held, petted, kissed, and passed from stranger to stranger. Nothing phased him, not a strange smell or face or a wheelchair or whirring machine. He looked at every resident with wide-eyed love and acceptance, as if they were the most wonderful person he'd ever seen. A nurse told me that Ernie's visit marked the first time they'd seen one particularly grim woman smile in the six weeks she'd been there. She became a regular on his rounds, and her face would light up every week when she saw him coming. He settled in beside her in bed and would have been happy to remain there as long as she wanted him. I've never been so proud of my little boy.

So to my headstrong, happy, silly, patient, loving, good-hearted little boy:
Happy 4th Birthday!!!


TMC said...

Awww! Happy Birthday, Ernie!

Craig Miyamoto said...

I have a speck of dust in my eye *dab dab*

Happy Birthday, Earnie boy.

James said...

Ernie is the best dog I know!

Happy birthday, Ernest! Keep the squirrels out of the yard and your mommy warm!

casch said...

*sniff sniff* I know I'd love ole Ern too! He's beautiful~or I guess he's "handsome". I know he is tons of company for you too! He is lucky to have a wonderful owner like you.