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To Own a Yorkie

Ronelle Faulks,

t wasn't just the ribbon in her silky hair, or her cute button nose, or even the shining dark eyes that looked adoringly at me. Nor was it the tiny feet that peeped out from under her long sleek coat or the pert manner of her walk. No – It was her smile!

This tiny 20 cm. high rascal actually smiled at me. I had no idea dogs could smile. Here I was, standing in the middle of a busy Mall in Brussels, obstructing busy shoppers whilst bending down smiling at this miniature canine, who, to my utter disbelief, smiled back. Totally fascinated I asked her owner how long the puppy had been doing this.

"Oh, Vivian has been smiling and greeting people since she was about eight months old." I was told.

I knelt and stroked her silky coat and tickled her behind her ears. Vivian responded with a gentle lick on my hand and then looked up at her owner to see if she approved. As there was no reprimand, her body began to wag from the tail up and the licking became more intense, to be followed by a few delighted yaps.

"That will do, Vivian," chastised her owner.

Vivian stopped yapping immediately and once again looked up adoringly at her owner. In our brief meeting I discovered that this captivating little animal was three years-old, obedient– to a point, playful, fussy with her food and simply loved attention. Walks along the busy Brussels' streets and perhaps a romp in the park were a real treat, while the chase and retrieval of a small rubber ball sent her into blissful rapture. Vivian's heaven was made up of a plate of baked chicken pieces, a squeaky ball, the pigeons that she almost caught in the park and, of course, the numerous cuddles and obvious love she received from her owner. The attention she got from passing strangers, when she smiled, also ranked high on her list of pleasantries.

Before I could ask the most important question of all, Vivian and her owner bade me farewell. They were on their way to Nanna's place, a weekly event not to be missed. As soon as the two turned down a certain street, Vivian knew where they were going. There would be a small dish of chicken pieces waiting, not to mention the hugs and cuddles as soon as they were let in the front door. Nanna was a favourite member of the family.

A lover of all things small and cuddly, particularly dogs, I hadn't asked what breed Vivian was. On my return to Australia in 1978, the first thing I did was to consult a large picture book displaying 'Toy Breeds'. On page 28 there she was–a Vivian dog! Vivian was a Yorkshire Terrier– 'Yorkie', for short.

Within three months of that eventful meeting in Brussels, I introduced eight-weeks-old, Yorkie puppy, Suzie, to my family. Super intelligent, independent, boisterous and courageous, Suzie lived with us for 16 years. She was just as beautiful in appearance as Vivian; long flowing silken hair that swept along the ground, her alert ears standing upright, her sparkling eyes ever watchful for something to chase. To my utmost delight, this little Yorkie was a smiler, in fact she could smile on demand, which kept our visitors amused and in stitches most of the time. Although she had a mind of her own, Suzie loved nothing better than to be petted and caressed. She idolized every member of the family and would join the children in whatever mischief they got into, making herself scarce when the scoldings were being handed out. To the utmost grief and distress of the family, Suzie died of tick poisoning, unable to be saved by our local vet.

Our second Yorkie, 'Buttons', was as different in

personality to Suzie as you could ever imagine. Quiet, gentle and loving, she was a real home girl. Extremely polite and gracious with visitors, she quickly became a favourite. She had the happy knack of making everyone feel special and delighted in playing to the gallery. Buttons had an extraordinary characteristic that not many Yorkies display. She did not like to be soiled in any way– in fact she would actually stand in front of the laundry sink demanding to be bathed, if she felt she needed it.

Whether it was the extra attention she always got after a bath when everyone told her she looked pretty, or whether she just loved the soapy massaging and towel drying that followed, or whether it was the sense of being clean that just made her feel better, I will never know. Every day was a wonderful adventure for her and she tried to make each one last as long as she could. When we told her it was time to go to bed she would grumble under her breath as she reluctantly climbed onto her sleeping pillow. She would still be grumbling when we turned off the light–much to our amusement. This little Yorkie lived with us for thirteen years before passing, and holds a special place in my heart. She was loved with the deepest affection by all.

Now, turning one year-old, 'Babe' has become a member of the family. As cute and as beautiful as she is, Babe is a real athlete. She adores to run along the beach close to our home. She plays in the shallows and chases the occasional seagull, while at home she contents herself with chasing lizards in the garden. She is oblivious of her small size and is ever eager for adventure. The Great Dane and Bull Mastiff she meets along the beach pose no real threat and she would readily stand her ground if it weren't for her owner who swoops her up, suppressing a potential heart attack.

Babe has above average intelligence and needs to be shown a new discipline once only. She learnt very early that begging seldom fails to be rewarded, and uses this technique to receive not only tid-bits of loved delicacies, but also tickles under her chin and on her tummy, which send her into seventh heaven. If there is an eighth heaven, it surely must be her bright pink leash being taken down from the shelf and waved in the air expectantly. With parrot-like squeals (not to be confused with yaps or barks) she bounces up and down on the spot quivering with excitement. The anticipation of going for a walk, or a ride in the bike basket or a paddle in dad's kayak, is almost too much for her to contain. Like the other two, Babe is absolutely adored, and the love that we give her, is given back ten-fold.

If I could create a literary image of a Yorkie, I would have to include all of the following:- Clever, brave, loyal, loving, comical, seldom aggressive, independent at times, sassy. Beautiful when groomed (and knows it) hectic and wild-looking if not. Has a sense of presence and self importance, willing, if not anxious to please. Affectionate, affectionate, affectionate.

Once a Yorkie owner–always a Yorkie owner. Its love at first sight!

To my readers – I bet you have some loved dog stories too...yes?


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