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My Wild Teacher

On a sunny day 5 years ago, as I stood on the street corner, looking down, a passerby stopped when she saw my dog Pearl in the grassy patch and said, "Oh! I was wondering what caused your beatific smile." I giggled. Mostly because I recognized how true it was. Pearl receives thousands of my smiles every day. She is so wonderfully herself and I admire her.

I learn from her every minute we are together and I've vowed to not take any of our time together for granted. "I love everything about you," I tell her daily, "even when you bark at strangers, chase skateboards along the dog park fence, and grumble when you're sleepy." Pearl's daily lessons for me are numerous and I decided to capture them on paper.

Pearl E.W. Eicher is a rescued terrier mix with white scruffy fur, black ears, and some black polka dots on her skin. Her small, black nose is heart shaped (as a young child pointed out); her body is long and she has a long, white tail. Everyone is surprised and delighted by her short legs. In fact, someone once asked her, "Who chopped off your legs and ran away with half of them?" My favorite parts of her vary from day to day: her long eyebrows, the pink rims of her eyes, her scruffy beard, the black patch of hair near her right knee, the tiny bit of white hair on the end of her left ear. I just cannot decide on any one part.

What I love about Pearl is her persistence, which is why her middle name is Elizabeth Warren. Whatever Pearl does, she does with a fierce vigor -- even sleeping is a serious matter for Pearl. Her love is also fierce and I feel that from her. She communicates with a fierceness that sometimes annoys people; people who are trimming her nails, for instance. I hold her in a sort of headlock, while Hannah quickly trims each nail, and Pearl 'screams'. Afterward, Pearl kisses Hannah, eats a treat and goes on about her day. My ears ring.

And I love her.

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