Isn’t it an amazing thing to watch a friendship grow? I’ve had the distinct pleasure of watching just that between my puppy, Jellybean, and Jay, the little boy I am blessed to care for three days a week. From an eight month old, just beginning to explore the world around him in August, to an energetic toddler now one and a half, Jellybean and my little “Jaybird”, as I like to call him, have become inseparable. If you see one, you will most certainly see the other not far behind.
It began with some curious sniffing on the part of Jellybean and some reciprocal giggling from Jay. Playtime on the quilt became part of our morning routine, with Jay precariously balancing himself on the colorful quilt or putting in some tummy time, as he explored the toys around him. Jellybean positioned herself just out of reach from the kicking feet and occasional flying block or noise-making toy.
As the months passed, and Jay started to become more mobile, he was able to explore not only his basket of toys, but Jellybean’s magnificent collection of dog toys as well. It literally looked like a toddler tornado went through the room when Jay was finished emptying every basket in that part of the living room. This activity was to Jellybean’s utter delight! Admittedly, Jellybean does have a plethora of balls, stuffed animals, squeaky toys, bones, etc. In his excitement to empty the baskets and experiment with the different sounds of squeakiness, Jay apparently uncovered toys that had been long lost to Jellybean. Suddenly from her comfy spot along the perimeter of the basket purging area, Jellybean would jump up, tail wagging and run to pick up a toy. Chaos ensued as she excitedly got reacquainted with her newly found prize, only to be distracted by another toy that had been uncovered from the depths of her toy basket. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the excitement of toddler and puppy as they played off of each other’s discoveries.
Something Jellybean has always done when preparing for a walk, is to run for a toy. She generally chooses her favorite, Hedgehog, or sometimes “Mr. Pizza”, the stuffed slice of pepperoni pizza with arms, legs and a great big pizza smile given to her as a thank you from a local retirement home. In most instances, her toy is abandoned at the end of the driveway, only to be reclaimed when the walk has concluded. My little Jaybird is quite the observant one. He has noticed that when I say it is time for a walk, Jellybean makes a run for her toy. He has now joined in the fun. The other day, I announced it was time to take Jellybean on her potty walk. As I went for her leash and to grab a potty bag, Jellybean sprinted into the living room to grab a toy and Jay turned around and ran into the living room as well. Jellybean returned with her hedgehog. Jay, on the other hand, returned with an Easter rabbit that had been situated on a small chair by the fireplace. I must admit, it made for a good chuckle and a great photo op, as he insisted the rabbit ride beside him in the stroller. I mentioned that Jay is quite the observant one. He knows that I always grab a bag before we leave for our walk, so naturally, being the helpful little guy he is, he likes to grab the bag for me. This generally results in the whole roll of bags being stretched down the hall. Although this past week he hit the jackpot with a new roll of bags, which he managed to pull through the hallway, into the kitchen, through the living room and back into hallway. Jellybean wasn’t quite sure what to do with this one. She sat and watched as he pulled and shook the collection of bags. Oh my, have I mentioned how much I enjoy this little guy?
Then there are the hugs! Jellybean has become quite accustomed to receiving hugs from Jay at various times throughout the morning and afternoon. Generally they come at quieter times in the day; after story time, preparation for nap, after a diaper change. How cute it is to see them snuggled up together, Jay being the recipient of Jellybean’s sloppy kisses. Not everyone is privy to the same bond that Jay and Jellybean have developed. My grandchildren try and try to get some love from Jellybean, but it takes a lot of work and quite a bit of noisy barking when they first arrive. I think there are two reasons for this. Jellybean has never forgotten the first time they came to meet her and sat on the loveseat she had claimed as her own, hence there has always been a bit of a territorial issue, as well as the fact that Jay and Jellybean spend three days a week side by side. There is simply a different kind of connection between them, but I do know she loves my grandchildren as well. They just have to work harder for it.
How endearing it has been watching Jay and Jellybean become best buds. Although we will have a bit of a summer break, Jellybean and I will still spend time with Jay so that our bond is not broken. Come August, what fun we will have as we begin another school year together and Jay’s motor and verbal skills continue to advance. I am so excited to see what shenanigans these best buds will get into!
Beverly Stiffler Smith