Bashful Birthday Girl

We all have our pandemic stories, everything from losing loved ones to the Corona Virus to being bored. I’ve written here about recruiting my friend Dan to take Dora and me to a metro park for a change of scenery and for a break in the boredom of walking the same old streets in our neighborhood, week after week.

But here’s something I hadn’t considered. My guide dog would become so used to being the only dog in her life that when the opportunity to introduce doggy company into her humdrum life, it would be very frightening. I’ve read that people are hesitant to join back into groups, because they have been so used to being alone. They fear being around other people. But the same can be true of our dogs. When I went to the beauty shop for the first time in months, Dora trembled with apprehension. She was very uncomfortable with all the conversations that were going on around us. I was not prepared for this. I thought she would be like me, happy to be with real live people again.

Dora will soon be eight years old, so I latched onto the idea I had several years ago of having a doggy birthday party. My friends Dave and Kathy brought their darling Goldendoodles over for a romp in the yard, a treat for them, as they don’t have a fenced in yard like we do. As they clambered out of the car and galloped over to where I was sitting with Dora on leash, they were so excited to see Dora and me that they were jumping all over each other. It was going to be a party indeed! But the birthday girl wasn’t used to such exuberance, so she tried to hide under the bench where I was sitting. I hadn’t expected that. We see this behavior with little kids, but apparently, it happens with dogs too. We herded them into the house and out into the back yard. Just like before, Winifred and Baggins seemed to enjoy exploring the yard, while Dora only had eyes for Dave, who obligingly tossed the Kong for her at least a hundred times. Next it was time to sing happy birthday and enjoy their Frosty Paws, a special ice cream-like product for dogs. Kathy held one cup for one dog, and I held one for each of two dogs. As you can see in the video, we had three happy dogs, licking their peanut butter treats with constantly wagging tales.

When it was time to go home, our doggy guests each got a toy, but of course they each wanted what the others had. This is why they get their party favors as they go out the door. The dogs had fun, but the people enjoyed it more. And the birthday girl wondered “What was that all about?”

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir


Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at


1 thought on “Bashful Birthday Girl

  1. Cute story. Dora did react just like many people do who haven’t socialized in awhile!!
    As we all know, the more we are together, the more we are loosened up to participate.

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