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Happy New Year to Callie!

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Callie is a dog, a good dog. I don't know what breed she is. It doesn't matter to me. I like her because she is sweet.

Callie doesn't have white curly hair. She doesn't have big floppy ears either. Instead, she has short, shiny black hair and two pointy ears. She doesn't belong to the cute or rare category. It doesn't matter. I like her the way she is.

Callie is our neighbors' dog, about 4 years old. I have the honor of walking her twice a day when our neighbors are on vacation. No, I am not a dog lover. In fact, I am afraid of dogs, all dogs, except Callie.

When Callie first arrived, I was afraid of her too. One day, while I was unloading groceries from Costco, Callie came to my garage and sniffed the trunk of my van. I assumed that she had probably smelled the famous Costco roasted chicken. I said to her, "Please go home!" She didn't move, but stared at me and sniffed again. Her eyes seemed to say, “Don’t you know it is nice to share?” I went inside my house, worrying she would attack me.

Time passed by. Callie and I built mutual trust, just as we had built friendships with our neighbors.

First, I noticed that she wouldn't bark at me if I got close to her, but she would bark at strangers like crazy if they entered her driveway. Then she would let me pet her if I saw her with her owner. 

This past summer, I took care of her for a week. I finally got to know her better. Callie has good hygiene. When she needs to pee, she likes to go behind a tree trunk on the lawn. She always lifts one of her legs up as if she doesn't want to get wet. After she is done, she wipes her paws on the grass a few times to make sure they are clean. If she needs to poop, her tail becomes straight. I then get the doggy bag ready. She always does her business at approximately the same time. When I came back from my China trip, I went to see Callie. She stood up right way and hugged me with her two front legs. I let her down and she licked my hands. It was like seeing a long lost friend. I had tears in my eyes.

This week I am taking care of her for four days. I have learned something new about her. Callie is also a very disciplined dog. If she hasn't taken a walk, she won’t eat, even if you put food in her bowl. She also knows how to portion out her food, never eating more than she should. I wish I was as disciplined as her in front of food. She never pees or poops in her crate either.

Callie is very courteous. Every time when I open the door of her room and she sees me walking towards her, she immediately kneels down as if she wants to say, "Thank you, I can't wait to go out with you." When we return from walking around the neighborhood, I can tell her eyes are full of appreciation. "Bye Callie, see you in the evening." "Goodnight, Callie, see you in the morning." I close her door.

Callie likes to run on the sidewalk with me. She knows how to adjust her speed with mine, not too fast, not too slow. When other dogs pass by, she instantly gets alerted. Sometimes she is so scared that she pants heavily and runs towards home. Other times she barks back like a fighter. I can’t tell what makes her react differently. It definitely has nothing to do with the size or color or breed of the dogs she encounters. Once, she played hide and seek with a white, curly haired dog just like two little kids.

It is quite cold tonight, and it is New Year’s Eve. I took Callie out for the last walk of 2016. The street light was dim. Callie looked left and right, then pooped on the grass. The wind blew and it took me a while to open the bag. When I finally opened it, I forgot the exact spot and couldn't find her poop. I waited for the cars passing by and hoped that their front lights would shine me some light. One by one the cars ran by. I still couldn't see what I was looking for. Callie waited patiently, not even moving a step. I didn't know if she felt guilty for causing my trouble to search the grass inch by inch. When my hand in the thin plastic bag finally touched something soft and warm, I told her happily, "I got it, Callie!" What a good feeling it is when you don’t give up and get what you want!

I don't know if Callie knows today is a special day. It is a day that everyone on earth celebrates regardless of their culture, religion or jurisdiction. When I let her back to her little cozy home, I gave her regular food and added more treats than usual. To make it special for the last meal of 2016, I fed her the treat from my palm. She was so gentle and so thankful. "Goodnight, Callie. Happy New Year to you, Callie. I'll see you in 2017." I waved my hands to her as I always do.

(写于2016年12月31日,改于2017年1月2日)

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