An Unexpected Friend

friendship, friends, man's best friend, smileI make a new friend on a recent trip to the right coast.

His name is Oliver, and he’s my brother’s dog.

This golden lab mix, 5 years old, is about as loving a being as you’ll ever find anywhere on this earth.

As I arrive at my brother’s Maryland home, Oliver waits for me at the front door like I’m a long-delayed special guest. The tip of his tail wags first, as if he wonders if I’m as nice as he’s been told. When I greet him happily, bending down so we can meet eye to eye, his wag travels down the rest of his tail, and then onto his body, which can hardly contain his excitement.

Yes, we bond immediately.

Oliver brings me his special stuffed muskrat. friendship, dogs, dog toy

He tours me around the acreage of his family estate, proudly showing off the peach and apple tees, the vegetable garden, and the strawberry patch.

When I rub him down, he talks to me with a prolonged squeal, similar to the sound of a young boy swallowing helium.

An endearing trait.

When I sink into the hot tub with my brother and sister-in-law on a cool but gorgeous Sunday morning, Oliver splays himself on the pool curb besides me, licking my cheek every so often, just checking up on me.

dogs, hydrantIn other words, we become fast friends.

I take Oliver for a 45-minute walk, and he shows me every colorful hydrant in town, and introduces me to the neighborhood cat, who enjoys playing “chase me up a tree.”

But then it’s time to say goodbye.

With suitcase at my side, I stand by the front door. Oliver approaches quietly, sitting in front of me, ramrod straight, gazing into my eyes and then suddenly, lifts his left lip so high it almost reaches his nose.

I stare back, open-mouthed.

“That’s his smile,” my brother explains.friendship, man's best friend, woman's best friend


I curl my lip in response and hug my new-found friend with fierce appreciation.

We find friends sometimes in the most unexpected places…

Covered in the most unexpected body types….

Offering unexpected joy and love.

As I return to the left coast, I find myself seated in the plane, curling my lip often as I think of my new unexpected friend.

friendship, dog friendship, smile

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

31 thoughts on “An Unexpected Friend

  1. I bet Oliver would be a great friend for Henry, too! It’s funny how when I think back on growing up, I associate my neighbors and friends with their special pets…and, I guess, I still do think of people and pets together! Oliver sounds like a wonderful friend and tell Chuck if he ever needs a doggie sitter….


    • You’re right – we dog lovers don’t separate our friends from their dogs in our thoughts. In fact, in remembering my childhood neighborhood, sometimes I liked the neighbors’ dogs a lot better than the neighbors… :-0


  2. I’m such a sucker for a dog story! And I’m also a sucker for any breed mixed with a golden retriever. My two boys are goldendoodles. Golden retriever + mini-poodle = pure love. Next time you’re on this coast, stop in NJ and meet them!!


    • I bet they’re absolutely adorable. We are ‘family with our 12-year-old golden Henry. And our first family dog, Tory, was a golden also. So I have a special place in my heart for the golden variety.

      Where in NJ? I grew up in southern NJ – back when there was a lot of farmland and one 2-lane highway to ‘the shore.’


  3. That is too, too, too adorable. Oliver is such a sweet boy! I love it when I bond with an animal. It touches me in a way that a relationship with another human just can’t.


  4. Oh Pam…what a wonderful story about you and Oliver. Just reading it made me smile, even have tears in my eyes. You see, years ago my neighbor had a gorgeous golden retriever named Tavia. She was a sweetheart! Whenever they went away, we would take care of her. When they were home, every single day she would wander over into my yard. The second I spotted her and said, “Hi there Tavia” she too would give me that adorable little smile you are talking about. At first I didn’t know what she was doing. Then when I asked my neighbor, she told me that was her way of smiling. I loved that smile and that precious dog. She’s been gone many years now and I still miss her everyday. How precious that you and precious Oliver bonded so well. Sure does make it hard to leave him though, huh! Oliver reminds me so much of Tavia! Thanks once again dearest beautiful friend for brightening my day with your wonderful story!!! You are such a blessing to me and all who read your stories!!! God Bless dearest Pam…love you girlfriend!!!!


    • Thank you, Bev. Glad I brought up such great memories of Tavia, who sounds like a love of a dog. I researched it – many people don’t believe that dogs smile. Pshaw!!!


  5. This is a very sweet story. That you found such a friend. I like how you describe his tail wagging. And his smile. And the helium sound. And the special stuffed muskrat. Really sweet.


  6. I loved that story! I smiled throughout. I uttered a few awwws. I can relate to some of the comments because I’ve dated men and liked their dogs more than the man. In fact, I still remember the dogs’ names years later, but cannot recall their owners’ names. At least they were dog owners and they had that going for them.


    • Haha. That would make a great book – the main character focuses on date-able men totally depending on their dogs, and their personalities! Yes, it’s interesting how years later, many times we remember a dog much better than his/her owner. And non-believers say dogs have no personality…. (shaking my head in wonder)


    • Isn’t that the truth? Dogs ARE companions like none other. In fact, mine is licking my toes as I type (oh, well, it’s also his dinner time, and that’s his way of reminding me…never mind). 🙂


  7. Now there went was left of my heartstrings. I miss my furry friends so much, and just loved this story!

    I’ll be babysitting my grandpuppy for a week next month and am looking forward to puppy love bonding then! 😉


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