We’d finished supper and Pepper was at my heels “helping” with cleanup. She licked the mostly empty bowls that I put on the kitchen floor and also enthusiastically disposed of the remaining shredded cheese and fritos. When I turned my back, she worked on the counter. But the pot of gold? The pot of chili, sitting on the stove.

“Why don’t I take care of that,” she offered, in a tone meant to convince.

“That’s very nice of you, Pep, but I think I’ll put the remainder of the chili in the fridge and then wash the pot.”

“But I love the idea of taking care of the remainder of that pot of chili,” she answered hopefully.

“Good grief, Peppy!” I answered. “You’ve already had 3 cups of dog food today, which is a full cup more than the recommended amount, plus a peanut butter stuffed bone. Plus the cheese and fritos and licking the bowls. Can you imagine how you would feel after eating that pot of chili?”

She considered.

“You would not feel happy,” I added before she could respond. “You would feel bloated and miserable. We have this conversation on a regular basis,” I added. “Do you think you might ever change your thinking on this topic?” I asked, with perhaps a tiny note of frustration.   

She sidled up to me and licked my hand. “I find that the Chinese have superior wisdom on this subject. ‘Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come,’” she quoted.

I sighed. I laughed. I sat down on the kitchen floor and gave her belly scratches.

“I don’t think they were thinking of pots of chili,” I teased her.

“You can’t argue with the power of the metaphor or its applicability to this situation,” she remonstrated, but it’s hard to take her too seriously when she is in her cutest curl receiving belly scratches.

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Postscript: Belly scratches continue. “Even on a snowy day, Pep? You keep the green tree in your heart?”

“Especially on a snowy day,” she replies with conviction.

“I’m kind of wondering how you do that,” I say softly.

“I’m not sure, I think it’s one of the lucky things about being a dog -” she says – and she licks my hand again – and I think of how God’s creatures create a green earth.



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Image of pot of chili from

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