the dolce story

by dolce dunning

the morning after

(this is me the morning after i came home or the morning i would have otherwise been...)

Sometimes at night when my mommy and I are falling asleep together, she rubs my soft ears and tells me stories of when I was little.

My favorite is about how I came to be with my mommy and daddy. My daddy is a chiropractor and because he has such a big heart, he will always adjust shelter animals in need, free of charge. One night, he got a call from a shelter director, they told him I was a little mastiff puppy, about 8 weeks old and I was paralyzed in my hind end. They said they had found me in a box, on their doorstep that morning. I was a purebred dog so the breeder must have dropped me off, because they didn’t know what else to do with me. And I hoped it was because they didn’t have the heart to put me to sleep themselves. 

My daddy came in the back kennel area and took me out of my cage and adjusted me. This was at night after he was done at his office, so only the shelter guard was there with him. I remember the guard telling him that if this one adjustment didn’t fix me, they would be putting me to sleep in the morning. I was pretty sad at that point and didn’t have much fight left in me. He put me back in my kennel and went back out front to leave. After a few minutes my daddy came back, he had told the guard he was going to go say goodbye to me. He opened my cage door, crawled in and unlocked my door to the outside play area, then he gave me a little kiss on my nose and told me not to worry about what I had heard. Not too long after that I heard some noise outside and my outside door opened up. He reached in and picked me up, and with his shirt tucked in tight into his belt he put me down his shirt, and climbed back over the fence of the play area. He pulled a cardboard box out of the dumpster and put it on the floor of the front seat of his car and put his jacket into it for a soft bed, then laid my little body, that had all but given up, into it, and we drove home. That was the best day of my life, and to think, it was almost the last day of my life.

That night after everyone had welcomed me and kissed me and hugged me, it was time for bed. My mommy put me in a box with warm, soft covers in the bathroom that was within their room, where she could see me and hear me and I would be safe. Then she tried to go to sleep. I cried pretty bad and she realized I was scared, so she said, “ok, we are never going to get to sleep listening to that, so the puppy will have to come into bed with us. But just this one night, cause dogs don’t sleep in beds with people.” 

And I have slept in her bed curled up with her every night of my life since then.

dog snuggle hour

I think perhaps my mommy wasn’t always the ridiculous dog person that I clearly must have turned her into. She is the better for it though, in my personal canine opinion.

I am not sure why I was so scared when I was little, I don’t remember the first couple months of my life and mommy wasn’t there yet to know what to tell me about that time. But I would never let her leave me alone, I would cry, and I don’t mean whine like a puppy then settle down after a while, I mean scream and cry. So mommy took me everywhere with her. Everywhere. We went food shopping (which is fairly illegal I am told, but the store owner is a friend and understood my predicament), and ran all of her errands. Since I was growing so fast, she used an overnight bag to support me, so she could carry me easier. I even went with my brother Tobi when he took his test to get his driver’s license. I was extremely popular at the DMV for some reason, general cuteness I suppose.

There was a day that my mommy tells everyone about a lot, I guess cause it was one of the happiest days in her life, because it meant all would be ok with me. It was the day I figured out how to walk. I was about 2½ months old by then and had been with my mommy and daddy for a couple weeks. Up until that time I had to drag my hind end to get around. And of course my mommy just carried me everywhere she went. I was sitting on the path in the yard that led to our farmhouse. Sitting with my back legs sprawled to the side, as was customary. Then, I just shifted my weight to get my hind end underneath me and popped up and started hopping with my back legs like a little bunny. Pretty soon I was running all over the yard in this fashion, after that mommy and I started our walks together.

lil d on her bench

My mommy and I have always taken wonderful trail walks together. This one warm summer afternoon I was hopping and splashing through the creek and paused to sit atop a little waterfall. I felt free to dangle my little ‘leggities' over the falls and let the water wash over them. My mommy says that was when she first came to realize what a silly girl I was. She says I only needed to be in a hoop skirt and twirling a parasol to complete the picture.

When I was just little and growing very fast into a big girl dog, my mommy said we had to get strong every day and practicing our walking. I think she was scared for me, but she never let on that she doubted I could grow, as strong as I would get big, and that I would always be able to get around just fine. So on rainy days she would take me to Home Depot, and we would walk the aisles. When I would get too tired I could ride in the cart! There were the various comments from other shoppers, such as, “Wow, which aisle did you get that in Ms.?” On more than one occasion I pooped in the lumber aisle, I couldn’t help it, we were on a walk and I had to go.

attention home depot shoppers

During those first few months my mommy was always so protective of me, she was so scared someone was going to take me away or find out where I was. It wasn’t until years later, when she knew I would be safe and the court case of my theft was settled that she told me of the warrants out for my daddy’s arrest for stealing me, and how the shelter said over and over to us, “Just bring the puppy back so we can put it to sleep and we will drop all the charges.” There was no way mommy or daddy was willing to do that, so daddy got in lots of trouble, but all the while kept me safe. It cost daddy lots and lots of money in fines and attorneys fees but finally after two years, no one was looking for me and we all could relax and know I was safe and strong and healthy and happy!

My mommy laughs so hard that we can barely sleep after when she tells this story. Orrango was a big fuzzy dog that mommy had saved years before, and he was laying against the bed one night. I wanted to get up onto the bed so I could go to sleep. It seemed an obvious solution to me at the time, but as I climbed up him and used him as a stepping stool to get onto the bed, he did not share the same fondness for my ingenious idea. He was a kind dog and did not get too upset, but did give me a look to remind that he was not a piece of furniture for my use. My mommy invested in a little set of stairs to go against the bed after that. 

When I was about four months old my mommy took me to an orthopedic surgeon to see what he had to say about my little body. By that time, I received regular adjustments and massages, water therapy, acupuncture and even osteopathic adjustments too. I remember that day in the doctor’s office, because it was Halloween and my mommy felt the need to bring me to my appointment in a devil costume, complete with horns and a cape. Very funny mommy. But I also remember that day because of how my mommy’s face lit up with utter pride and satisfaction when the doctor told her that he wouldn’t do a darned thing with this puppy because he was so amazed and in awe at how I was getting around, including running and swimming and climbing. He told her what an amazing job she had done, and how impressed he was with my determination to live this wonderful life considering the fate I was dealt. I love my mommy so much because she believed in me. Always.

I think my mommy might have forgotten this story because I don’t think she has told it to me at bedtime. Maybe because it was embarrassing for her, I don’t know, but I remember it well. We were driving down the road and I was in the front seat of the truck with my seatbelt on, it was going to be my first Easter. We passed a sign on the road that said, “Easter Bunny Train Rides This Weekend”. Mommy looked at me and said, “Oh Dolce, we should do that, I think you would really enjoy that.” I didn’t say anything, I simply thought, ummmm I think sometimes mommy forgets I am a dog.

When Tobi was in high school he had a girlfriend, Brittney and she had the best nails ever! Because my hind legs move together like a unit, it makes itching my ears kind of difficult for me. I can get the one side scratched pretty good, but the whole time my other ‘leggity' just thumps against the ground. After a while I learned a trick. As soon as “Nails”, that was what I called her, would come in, I would just thump my little foot against the ground. She would come over and scratch my ears and my cheeks and my neck all over with those wonderful long nails. It got to the point, where I would just look at her and get all itchy, knowing how good it would feel. I am not sure she ever caught on to my scam, if she did then she was pretty nice just to play along.

My favorite place for our walks is Round Valley, we walk on the trails or along the beach and I can splash along in the cool, clear water. I like to swim my walks cause my little heiney can just bob along and then we can go really far with mommy holding the other end of my leash, walking along the coast. We stop and sit and rest for a while, and I play in the water, and then we go along again. It is the most beautiful place in the world. My great swimming success during the summers, got mommy thinking about us living somewhere that I could swim year round.

So that is what we did. A few months after my second birthday we moved to Costa Rica. Mommy would never put me in a commercial plane, so she had a friend fly us down in a six-seater prop plane. I had the whole back row to myself, the seats were folded back and it was like a doggie playpen back there! The view out the windows was a little different than car rides though. Each of us had to hop onto the wing to climb in the little door to get in! It took a few days, being such a little plane. I got to see new cities; Savannah, Key West and Cancun, and stay in a hotel. In Cancun, we got to hang out in the pilot’s lounge for a while. Everyone enjoyed a dog’s company there, silly as it was to see. The house mommy rented had a big yard and was only a couple blocks from the beach. It had a great balcony overlooking the yard where I would frequently relax, but the cold tile floor was the best.

The next morning we started what soon became our ritual of waking up very early, having breakfast and going for a swim. Low tide left marvelous pools for frolicking. The best thing to do was sit in the water, very still, and let the fishies come all around me. I would watch them so intently, then POUNCE! I never caught any, but I am pretty sure they liked the game too, cause they came to play with me every morning.

One morning at our favorite coffee shop, my mommy was telling my story to the young woman owner, Olga. After hearing how I was saved and rehabilitated, she befriended my mommy very quickly, because she also had an immense love for dogs. And I became fast friends with her dog, Sophie. We would have frequent playdates and hang out in the coffee shop (a cool country is one where they let dogs in restaurants!). One time, my mommy was away for a couple days and Tobi and I stayed at the house. Olga wanted me to come for a playdate with Sophie, so she sent our usual taxi driver to pick me up. Tobi opened the back door, I hopped in and the taxi driver and I drove thru town to Olga’s house. I definitely got a few strange looks from people walking in town, it’s ok though, how could they know how special I am? 

We lived there for less than a year when we both decided it was just too darned hot, so we came back to the states. We found a nice home that was good for a dog to run and play and have lived there for a few years now. 

Every night when we go to sleep my mommy always tells me how perfect I am. And that I am the most beautiful girl in the entire world, and I should most definitely be on the cover of Vogue. 

My mommy always says that she might have helped me out of a little bit of a jam within my own life, but I am the angel with paws that surely saved her.

dolce and her cousin bella (who is a model!)

action shot!


remembering the good time she had at the fireside grilling party the night before

in her wheels with her fall snuggy on

the sweetest, most awesome doggie ever. i will always love you!