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It is a well-known fact that I love birds and dogs. In Australia this spring, I almost knocked The Man in My Life off his bus seat as I scrambled across him to get a good view of a flock of wild Cockatoos in a field.

Since the death of Poochie, my beloved Samoyed-Collie cross, I have used every opportunity to pet, snuggle, and take care of neighborhood dogs. I dogsit for my neighbors’ dog when they go on holidays, I take this same dog for walks, I stop every dog I meet during my own walks to indulge in some heavy petting. Dogs sense that I am a huge fan and slobber all over me. I even met a small pooch yesterday, spent a few minutes petting him, until the owner said, amazed, “He usually doesn’t like people!” To which I replied proudly, “Dogs like me.” As if to confirm this, another person walked past the dog and it started barking furiously. To myself I acknowledged:”Yup. I still have it…still have the magic touch!” Dogs are, I have found, very perceptive people. They know when people like them and when they don’t.

Science is just discovering the amazing talents dogs have. They are able to sniff out cancer, they warn people when they are about to have seizures, they calm down children (and grownups) with anxiety issues and PTSD. They are, of course, well known for their ability to sniff out drugs and bombs, to track fugitives, to lead blind people. They are used as therapy dogs for children and university students, they are reading companions for children who are struggling with reading, they can open doors, help do laundry, and provide other vital services for those in wheel chairs. They can sense human emotions and respond accordingly. And most of all, they give and receive love…lots of it.

This in no way detracts from the amazing skills other creatures have — such as the pigeons Gill just told me about. They are able to read x-rays almost as well as human radiologists! At first I thought it was just Gill’s obsession with pigeons that explained her  claim. But no, it is a proven fact. (She has written a book wherein the main characters are talking pigeons. If these revelations about their talents keep coming, she’ll be able to bypass people as her target audience and sell her book directly to the pigeons — a great, untapped demographic.)

I have become accustomed to not having a dog in the house since Poochie died and The Pig moved out with L’il Sis a few months ago. I don’t like it. I miss having a dog. Which is why I ‘borrow’ them whenever I can You can imagine my delight when I learned of a program in Austin, TX that addresses this need. It is called Uber Puppies. In much the same way as you dial up Uber for a taxi, you dial up Uber Puppies and the puppies appear in a cab–yours for 15 minutes (or I suppose longer if you’re willing to pay!) to cuddle, pet, spoil. The puppies come from places like the Humane Society or shelters, so the puppies benefit from the love and affection they might not normally receive. It’s a win-win. It strikes me that the idea is one step away from ‘Hire a Hooker’, but the result is better for society at large. Happy puppies; happy dog freaks.

I am very happy that there is a new puppy living across the street from me. When I feel the need for some puppy love, I toddle across the street and enjoy some puppy time. There is nothing like it to reduce one’s stress and make the day’s worries evaporate. I am the official ‘Granma’ to this puppy. So, in true Grandmotherly fashion, I am making a Christmas stocking for her…just as I have for all the dogs (present and past) in our family. They are displayed under the tree each year in tribute to the wonderful creatures who shared our lives for many years. They will never leave our memories or hearts. And fittingly, Poochie’s and Wilbur’s (L’il Sis’ first beagle) urns containing their ashes have pride of place on the mantel and coffee table so they can still enjoy the fire and be with us for family gatherings.

Long may Uber puppies prosper and grow!