Our Funny Valentine

One year ago Ben took me to a wonderful restaurant for a very special Valentine dinner. 

He knows that Valentine’s Day is my favorite day of the year. I’ve always loved the hearts, the cards, the poems, the pause. The way we pause in our busyness and the way we put a pause on the mundane are beautiful and they’re essential. We set aside this day to honor the notions of love, romance, affection and appreciation. It’s a day to smile and reiterate, “I choose you.”

So last year I got all dressed up in a tea length taffeta skirt, cashmere sweater with crystals sprinkled all over it, and stiletto knee-high boots. It was an evening to remember, which is particularly excellent because we haven’t been out to eat since. One week later we were at Costco stocking up on necessities for the pandemic long haul. Yay Covid. 

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2021: What a difference a year makes. We won’t be getting dressed up and we won’t be going out. Instead, we’ll be playing in the snow with our funny Valentine. Just this week she acquired a new moniker. She’s our Frisbee Valentine.

Tiamo’s love for the game of Frisbee is brand new. I had given her chances to play many times during our first months together but she wasn’t interested. Then autumn turned to winter and I stashed the Frisbee on a shelf.

When I discovered that this former Texan loves the snow just as much as I do, I made her pinky-promise that we would play in the snow every single day. A few days ago, as we headed outside to play, I grabbed one of Donovan’s Frisbees. I was thinking that maybe she was ready for it. Maybe it would be easier in the snow.

Immediately, from the very first toss, Tiamo understood the game and attacked it with zeal. She bunny-hopped through the deep snow, punctuating each chase with an extra-high leap at the end of the bunny-hop sequence, like an exclamation point where anyone else would settle for a period. I watched her hop and leap and twirl and soar and recalled my early insight that there must be an inner ballerina in this little dog. 

Later that day we had a second play session. In this one, she worked out a key insight: hopping through the snow to return the Frisbee to me was more successful if she flipped the Frisbee first and then carried it upside down. She also problem-solved how to give her paws a break from the cold: all she had to do was rest them on the upturned Frisbee.

The next day, Ben and I took her to the wide open golf course to play Frisbee.

It would have been perfect except that the snow was too deep for her little legs. Struggling in snowdrifts that nearly swallowed her whole, she showed amazing gumption, pluck, and determination.

Apparently, after a while, she had had enough and took matters into her own paws. She fetched the Frisbee one last time. She flipped it upside down. Holding it firmly in her mouth, she trotted right past Ben and just kept going. She was heading home. 

We couldn’t believe it. Ben looked at me and I looked at him. 

“Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” 

“OhmyGod—she’s taking herself home!” 

We told her to come, to sit, to no-no-no come back here but Tiamo just kept bunny-hopping in the opposite direction. She knew exactly where she was going. Ben and I had no choice but to gal-lump through two-foot-high drifts in a mad dash to catch up. 

With her bouncy ears flopping like deely-boppers and her tail waving behind her like a Chris Craft flag, Tiamo toted the Frisbee all the way home. When she reached the back yard she dropped it to the ground and plunked her little butt down beside it. We came chugging through the gate huffing and puffing but she just sat there looking at us as if to say, “Here, Dummies. This is the place where we can have a good game of Frisbee.” 

She was right. 

Here in our yard, the snow was deep enough to be fun but not too deep to be manageable. 

One of those rewards is a four-legged Valentine.

I will always treasure the memory of pre-Covid Valentine’s Day 2020. It was, after all, the first that Ben and I spent together and yes, it was lovely. But I see now that it was a warm-up act. This year, love has deepened and widened and expanded in part because of the incorporation into our lives of a lovely little creature called Tiamo. This year, then, not only do Ben and I have each other; we also have a funny Valentine. A Frisbee Valentine. A funny Frisbee Valentine who adds so much joy and laughter every day pulsates with the kind of unabashed elation that’s usually reserved for the fourteenth of February.  

Adopt don’t shop.

Your heart will never be the same. It’ll be better.