Pepper and I returned from a damp and dreary walk in the neighborhood one recent afternoon. Early crocuses blooming at the base of the old oak tree were the only signs of a spring still distant. As we approached the house, Pep and I both heard it: our favorite loud, deep bark.

“It’s Hotch!” she cried, and I let her off the leash. Pep dashed away to visit the very handsome German Shepherd who lives in the yard behind us.

Pep and Hotch played their very favorite game, running back and forth on opposite sides of the Great Silver Fence. They meet nose to nose – he barks – then she takes off running the length of the fence. He lopes after her. When he gets to her, the game begins again. He is always chasing, she is always sought. It seems an amicable and exciting arrangement for both of them.

A loud whistle finally called Hotch back inside, as it always does.

Breathing hard, Pep came to the back patio where I’d been sitting, watching them.

“Why does he always have to leave so soon?” she asked plaintively.

“I know you don’t like it when he has to go back inside, and I don’t blame you. He is a gorgeous dog.”

“I don’t like him because he is a quote, unquote, gorgeous dog,” she scoffed.

“You don’t have to be embarrassed, Pep!” I replied. “I can tell you like him! I think you might even have a Terrible Crush on him!”

“I don’t even know what a Terrible Crush is, but I nonetheless resent the implication.”

“Oh, Pep!” I laughed.

“Here’s the truth,” she said. “With Hotch, I feel the strength in my own legs. And I like it.

That shut me up from further talk about gorgeousness and Terrible Crushes and made me think instead about True Friends.

“You are lucky to have a friend like Hotch, and he is lucky to have a friend like you,” I said, petting her.

“Yes, we are lucky to have each other,” she agreed, snuggling in a little closer.

*      *     *

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear Bacon readers!

Love who you love, be who you are, cherish your True Friends. xoxo

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