As I was writing this article, Simba, my 2-year-old Chihuahua-Yorkie, was comfy in my lap.
Simba has tripled in size and weight since I took ownership of him when he just a three-pound puppy. Call him the most pampered and spoiled of dogs, Simba's the first in my household, my first canine in more than 33 years in the United States.
My friends say, "Simba's so lucky," aware that there are canines and felines out there needing a home or a decent shelter. We have treated Simba as a member of the family, and he's fortunate to have good health care, unlike many human beings.
Simba's a member of our family. Since Day One, he has been our responsibility. We are serious about our responsibility to properly take care of him, as if he is a child of our own.
We have to make sure he's updated with his mandated yearly city registration and required vaccinations. And just like us, he needs tender, loving care, along with a periodic health check, to make sure he's clean and eating right, maintaining weight and avoiding worms in his digestive system.
We also make sure he's physically, mentally and socially active.
Simba is such a blessing to me, especially. day and night, he keeps me company. he seems to know when I'm angry or happy. Like a child, he craves attention.
He likes to go with me wherever I go. When left alone, he patiently waits for me and is excited to see me back home when I return in an hour or two. believe it or not, he has been with us to church and restaurants several times (not in Hampton Roads but out of town where my daughter Tintin lives and works as a school counselor).
He stays in his carrier bag and, unless he senses something that makes him feel uncomfortable or in danger, he keeps quiet with his treat or a noiseless toy.
One time, while we were dining out, together with my daughter Tintin and her fiance Robbie, I was startled to see Simba has escaped! I had been sharing bits of my steak with him, but suddenly he was running around the place, while fellow diners were staring at us as we tried to catch him. I apologized to the manager, who had become familiar with us from other visits.
Dogs, especially when they're properly trained, are intelligent. They listen to commands and understand simple instructions. But they're also annoying and stubborn at times. Like us, they crave attention.
When they wag their tails, they're excited, happy and want to play. When they don't, there may be something wrong or bothering them.
I'm thankful to have Simba in my family. Hopefully, he's going to be with us for a long time. Happy second birthday, Simba!
If you're looking for a companion like this, don't forget to visit the Mutt Strut, the Suffolk Humane Society's annual fundraising and fun-for-the-family dog walk, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Bennett's Creek Park. For more information, visit www.suffolkhumanesociety.com.
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, May 4, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.