It has been a lovely, warm, sunny spring and early fall in San Diego, but things are getting a little dusty in the back country. Prime time for fires. I remember 2007 when there were seven fires burning in San Diego County at the same time. The air had an acrid smell to it and the haze hung over the city like a shroud. Hundreds of homes lost. Out of the confusion, the local animal shelters were overrun with stray dogs and cats. There is where we found our Chessie, a sheltie mix. One and a half years old, frightened and looking so lost and when I saw her, I knew I had to take her home. She’s been a great pet for 12 years and even plays with our new puppy dog. She is slowing down like the rest of us, and losing her hearing. (she and my husband can commiserate). I wonder if they make hearing aids for dogs? It is a sad fact that we outlive our pets, yet I cannot imagine life without a dog in the house. Whether you are gone 10 days or 10 hours, their joyful bark, wagging tail and the light in their eyes when they see you, is something I never get tired of. We always get a younger dog when our first dog gets older, first, to show the new dog the ropes and also to ease the lost of a dear and faithful friend when their time comes. I wrote a story called “Kritters in the Kitchen, and Places in the Heart.” Lots of animal stories. I need to get back to work on that book! My little new friend has her paws on my knee, and wants some attention. I stroke her silky ears and tell her what a sweet dog she is. It is enough. She wags her tail and goes off to find something else to chew on. Better do a house check!