Muskrat Love

dog friendsI make a new friend on a recent trip to my brother and sis (in-law’s) home. 

His name is Oliver, and he’s their 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 their 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 home, I find myself seated in the train, curling my lip often as I think of my new unexpected friend.

dog, dog swimming

This is a repost from 2013. Oliver loves swimming with his best friend (my brother) , and he still smiles with his left lip.


145 thoughts on “Muskrat Love

  1. Oh, Oliver! I loved “prolonged squeal”, and “fierce appreciation” – perfect descriptions. That picture of him with the muskrat goes hand-in-hand to me with the sound I imagine he makes:) How are dogs just so full of joy? So wonderful/soothing/healing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pam, I wondered if Oliver was going to stowaway in your suitcase and return home with you?! 😀😀 A wonderful post on unexpected friendships and he is a bundle of pure love and joy … I get shivers reading about his smile. Wow! I hope you get to often visit Oliver (and of course your brother and sister-in-law). Hugs, my friend xx❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I see Oliver once or twice a year, and each time, he acts like he’s being reunited with a best friend. Oh, DOGS, how they make us feel special. And yes, I’ve tried to sneak off home with Oliver, but my brother always catches me in the act. 🙂

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  3. Your title, Muscrat Love, reminded me of the Captain and Tenille song of the same name. (Or was it Karen Carpenter?) I watched her sing it in the White House at a concert honoring Queen Elizabeth II (televised). The Queen looked rather unamused, I remember.

    I was thrilled when this turned into a sweet story of unexpected friendship and unconditional love. Dogs are the best.
    And I’m aware that Oliver is now 10. I’d like to hear more Oliver stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I thought of the title because Oliver loves muskrats (alive or stuffed, turns out), but I remember the song by Captain and Tenille well. I got a smile thinking of the unimpressed Queen. 🙂 Another Oliver story – he’s as loving as you can be, but (ahem) he does chase any racing moving creature (ie, groundhogs, muskrats) and places them in the pool as a gift to my brother. Yuck. But Oliver presents them with his lopsided grin.

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  4. Aw I just love this post!!! Love how Oliver showed you around and was so affectionate and has such a big smile. No doubt he will remember you for the next round when you visit again. Every time I visit my son in California I would bring his dog, a very special love, McGrupp, a huge bone. He died recently a happy old man and his presence is very much missed.

    Really enjoyed the tail description as well.


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    • Blessings to McGrupp and all of our amazing pets who have left us (always too soon) to the world beyond. Our Henry (golden boy) passed away over four years now, but I still visit him in my dreams.
      Each time I visit Oliver (and my brother), Oliver seems to remember me perfectly well, with an immediate lopsided (lip-sided?) grin. 🙂

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  5. Oh my! After that smile, I might have packed up sweet Oliver into my luggage. Obviously, Oliver sensed your warm and caring heart from the start, Pam. Thanks for sharing your new friendship. Perhaps you can volunteer some dog-sitting services. xo

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  6. Oliver must be part human. You make him sound so REAL and lovable, which of course he is. He bonded with you even before you bent down to meet his gaze. If I ever get another dog, it will be a golden lab. Thanks for the joy, Pam!

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    • I know, Marian. Our golden has been gone for 4 years, and we wonder if/when we should bring another in our life. But for now, at least I have Oliver every time I visit my brother. (Truth be told, I visit Oliver – it’s nice that my brother is there too.) 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • I sink into happiness when a dog “talks” to me, as your Jegs does. Our golden (gone for four years now) talked to me like your Jegs, but only if I left him alone for over two hours. Then, when I returned, he’d talk for long stretches, and I was kind of glad I couldn’t interpret his words. ;-0 🙂

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      • I have a conversation with Jegs. I tell him Piper did NOT push him out of his bed, there is plenty of room on Mom’s bed for the both of them. Piper sits there with her tail wagging as he continues his litany of abuses she heaped on him…….(I KNOW they snuggled all day…….)

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  7. There is nothing in the world better than fuzzy lovin. Dogs are so much smarter and feel so much more than most ever really understand. They do try to talk and smile and Oliver seems to have very good instincts. Dogs are how I determine who is good people. He’s obviously well loved in his home. Thanks for my morning smile, Pam.

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    • I have a distinct mistrust toward people who don’t like dogs. I mean, how can one NOT like a dog? Granted, there are those who were bitten at a young age, and some never get over their fear, which I consider a horrible disservice to the human, and to dogs everywhere. ❤

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      • My son was bitten by a doberman from directly across the street that was trained as a guard dog. It got out and he got picked. Other friends a few doors up had one also that was a family dog. When they realized my son was now afraid of all dogs, they asked to take him camping with them. He had to sleep with the dog. ;)) He was never afraid again. We had a small dog at home so it was just the bigger dogs that scared him. I think sleeping with the enemy was a brilliant idea my neighbor had. Every so grateful. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals either. If my dog liked you, you were good people. I so agree with you.

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  8. Your visit to brother’s place brought joy and sadness – as I remember each day my ‘golden buddy’, Toby. He had some two dozen stuffed animals. When we visited my Mom, he would go grab the stuffed toy he identified with her… Miss him, my best pal, to this day – and, beyond, ♥♥♥

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    • Ohhh, Billy Ray, I can feel the spirit of Toby through the virtual blogging waves. My first golden (when we were raising our kids) was Tory. Tory became my muse and my friend. She ran with me almost every day, and she helped me raise our kids. 🙂 I believe that Tory and Toby are never really “gone.” They are within us, always. ❤

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  9. My furry girl is a white/golden lab too and she is also very loving. In the mornings when I wake up (or she wakes me) I rub her tummy and head and she coos at me. If I stop too soon, I’ll get a paw slap – I have to be given permission to stop, apparently. She is definitely in charge here.

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    • Smiles are not a dog’s natural expression, Carla. I mean, their mouths already have a natural upturn. So when they reward us with an extra omph of a grin, wow, it knocks us into joy. Blessings to your little dog – ours passed in 2014. Still mourning…

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    • Labs are remarkable. My first experience was with Caesar (born on the Ides of March), my parents’ black lab when I was a young mother. Caesar’s tail would wag so hard that if one of my toddlers got behind him, the wag would bat them yards away. ;-0

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  10. Oliver sounds like a perfect dog or just about near perfect. I think the golden, lab cross probably produces one of the best mutts or the best of crosses. I am sure your brother has enjoyed Oliver immensely and especially his friendly disposition and his winning smile.

    As an aside, I taught my daughter’s Aussie how to smile. My daughter hated it and was actually mad at poor Annie and me. She refused to acknowledge Annie’s smile and so all my clever training went down the drain. Actually, It I thought it was very cute.

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    • Isn’t that interesting that your daughter didn’t like Annie’s smile. I admit, those who are uncomfortable with dogs are at first scared of Oliver when he smiles – to them, he’s showing them a silent growl. Each dog has his/her own way of showing true love. I’ll take a lick on the cheek, a lop-sided grin, a “leaning in” on the thigh – whatever the dog offers, I accept! I know you are the same way, Yvonne. ❤

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  11. As a dog lover myself, I really like this post. I have just published a book about my dogs and other pets. Nothing is as loving and caring is a dog. Oliver sounds like a perfect pet. My book, Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins includes stories about horses, cats and even fish and birds. Maybe some of your readers would like to learn more. We included color pictures that show off how beautiful our furry friends really are.

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  12. Interesting that I should open this and find a story about a new dog friend… I am an animal lover at heart also. I think they can always tell.
    Here is my adventure this week. I am on my way to a political luncheon on Tuesday and less than a mile from my house is a huge gray and white dog limping down the side of the road. I immediately stop and go to her and she lies down in the middle of the street. I am on a back country road so this is not really dangerous. She is hurt. Her front left paw has a knot on it about the size of my fist but no blood or other signs of injury. I try to coax her to my car and end up with two awesome guys stopping with me and getting her into my vehicle. I took her to my vet and left her.. told them to do whatever they needed to do to figure out what was wrong and I would pay for it. I went on to my luncheon… late, but I went.
    I called as soon as I was done and they had not seen her yet, but will let me know the minute they have news. It ended up that she has a severe infection in her leg that goes all the way to the bone. It has been going on for a while because bone has started to build on itself to repair the damage. But she is healthy in every other way and about 2 years old. She spent the night, they cleaned her up by de-matting her and giving her a bath. Grace (her new name) is an 89# Great Pyrenees mixed with something else, maybe Australian Shepard. She is mostly white but has dark spots on her back and spotted legs and a gray head with a white blaze. She is precious and this is going to be her forever home… I think. I cannot find anyone looking for her AT ALL!! I still look at her and cannot believe I have a Great Pyrenees lying on my kitchen floor (and neither can the Yorkie)! LOL! Now what?? Will keep you posted! 😂😌

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    • For the love of grace, Courtney, what a story!!!! Grace has been sent to you – perhaps in time you’ll find out why. But I have shivers running up and down my spine. You are the kind of person I’d like to know forever – you are brave and kind and wonderful. Sorry, I shouldn’t gush. Please, please keep us up to date with Grace’s condition and how she adjusts to life at your home. What a lucky GRACE. ❤

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      • Update: So I took Grace back to the vet on Tuesday. She isn’t any better but she also isn’t any worse. So those are good signs but it would be difficult to see any change after just 7 days on antibiotics. We have her on some powerful pain meds to help with the discomfort but she is still limping of course. She is eating and drinking for me and has the amount of energy you would expect. We go back on Jan 2 for another follow up. After 3 weeks on antibiotics we are praying we see improvement. That tells us it is indeed just an infection and not cancer. But we are all optimistic because if it were truly a tumor she would be showing other signs of illness like not eating etc. We would have been able to see metastasis in other parts of her body and chest xrays are completely clear. She appears healthy in every other aspect. So please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Grace is so sweet and docile and just lays around but she has been getting along great with the Yorkie and the neighbor dogs. They have many conversations… lol!
        We are already very attached to her and it would kill me to have to put her to sleep but I will do what is best for her and at least I will know I did all I could to make the end of her life comfortable and loved. Had I left her on that road, I would have cried and lost sleep and worried about her. I am so grateful she came to me and I was able to get her taken care of this far.
        I will write a blog about her soon, I promise. I haven’t yet because of all the people who read it and I am keeping her under wraps for the moment. I have told our daughter and a couple of friends who are sympathetic to my thought process. Others will have advice, tell me I’m crazy, ask me what was I thinking yadda yadda and I am just not up to dealing with all of that yet. So when we know more, I will write the whole story with pictures! Promise! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh Pam! How this love story touched my heart!!! I could see the instant bond, the
    prized muskrat toy he had to show his new friend, the rundown he got from you, the long walk you shared, the licks in the hot tub and the big, wonderful, contagious smile he gave you!!!! Thank you for this Christmas time love story!!! 🐶 ❤️🐶🎄☃️❄️🎅

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  14. That’s the best kind of new best friend. I can actually picture his smile. No worries with furry friends. They never judge, never get mad at you and never pretend a friendship and then leave you later. You have a found a very good friend in Oliver,

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  15. How fabulous! I could feel the (barely) suppressed bubble of “friend-friend-bestie-friend!” traveling through the tip of the tail to the curl of the lip!
    BTW, I stalked Dale here … and now I follow you … (sheesh, this came out creepy … 😉 What I really meant to say is that Dale’s recommendations of blogs to follow are usually worth … a follow … so here I am!)
    Happy Pooch memories to you,

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