BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
Earlier this year, our mini poodle, Miss Noelle, turned 15. All week long, I showered her with extra praise, extra treats, extra love. Despite her poor hearing and failing eyesight, she picked up on the vibe and lapped up the indulgences.
“You’re spoiling her!”
“Am not, I’m CELEBRATING her!”
I am so grateful for this girl, the fur baby who came to me by divine intervention (I am convinced!) and a cool story. You might say that I found her online as I reached out to several mini poodle breeders around the country in search of: “Healthy, potty-trained dog, five years or younger.” The candidates were disappointing, mostly nine-year-old former breeders who only knew the function designated to them. While my heart broke for these babies who only knew about having babies, I held out. And then, one day, I was “presented” with Miss Noelle. She fit the bill…and then some.
For one thing, she came with a verifiable “past.” Born in Bend, Oregon, from a line of champions, Miss Noelle was purchased by a woman in Louisiana who was intent on making her a prize showgirl. She certainly had the lineage and the looks, as well as remarkable agility skills. The one thing she lacked, however, was a showgirl personality. Quite the introvert, Noelle’s career and her owner’s hopes came to a swift end. What happened thereafter is a little murky, but I do know that she was being fostered until a new owner could be found. She spent most days watching the Disney Channel as her foster mom worked to bring home the bacon.
Once the deal was sealed – Miss Noelle came with a pretty price – we drove to the airport to pick her up in the building marked “Cargo.”
“Can I see your paperwork?” “Oh yeah, your dog’s over there.”
“Oh my God…is she breathing? She looks like a stuffed animal…a PERFECT stuffed animal.”
“She’ll get over it.”
“I’m sorry… Get over what?”
“Flew over in cargo, next to a corpse.”
We hustled our “perfect stuffed animal” out of there lest we’d find ourselves subjected to more of the story. And that’s when Miss Noelle started her second career as a canine concierge. We owned and operated a country inn in the coldest spot in northwestern Connecticut, and Miss Noelle adjusted to her new role seamlessly. Greeting guests and making them feel welcome came naturally to her. We soon realized that our unsuccessful beauty queen was a natural therapy dog, looks be damned! Miss Noelle became so popular that I felt compelled to launch her own blog, a place where “she” shared her musings about the 24/7 life of an innkeeper and weighed in on the peculiarities of human nature.
By the time we moved to the South in 2017, Miss Noelle was more than ready for a second retirement. Her stealthy addiction to sniping Hershey’s chocolate kisses from the guest rooms had caused two dangerous bouts of pancreatitis, which had sapped her energy.
My former showgirl, canine concierge, therapy dog, and ever-faithful companion now enjoys a quiet life of consummate leisure, the perfect retirement for a girl whose entire story I will never know. Happy 15th, my love!