I have only loved one dog in my life, a collie, named Zoonie. She was large, golden-haired, streaked with white with a long pointed nose and very human eyes. With a little coaxing, she would sit properly upright and offer her paw. If you added some loving words, she would give out a happy breath, or two, and lift her paw again. Her eyes glowed. You could roll around on Zoonie; she wouldn’t mind. If you were a cat being chased by another cat, or small dog, you could run right under her legs. She would stand there majestically and protect you. She was so steady, calm and contented, her spirit rippled into you until your own breathing became deep and satisfied.

This weekend, I met another dog whose spirit shone. This is a mutt, a large puppy, that Paul’s son, Scott, and girlfriend, Brynn, picked out at the pound and brought home to love and train. Her name is Layla. What she has in common with Zoonie is her happy disposition and her human eyes. However, being a puppy, she’s not calm–at least not unless she’s had two, or three consecutive walks. Then she’s ready to lie her whole body down flat, close her eyes and snooze.

Paul and I flew to Indianapolis where Scott picked us up and drove us to his apartment in Bloomington.

Paul climbed into the front passenger seat, and glanced around the car. “You’ve cleaned it,” he commented.

“Yup,” said Scott. I was in the back, so I couldn’t see if he smiled, but I’m pretty sure he did.

I did see Scott smile late Saturday night when he came into the study where Paul and I were at work throwing the couch cushions on the floor and wrapping sheets around them, because the blow-up mattress had a hole in it no one could find.

“You guys look like you’re camping,” he said.

Before going to bed we had dined like kings and queens because Brynn is a twenty-four year-old goddess in the kitchen. Working like a Trojan, she whipped up some of her mother’s recipes: a vegetable-curry soup, rolled flank steak with a prosciutto/breadcrumb filling, pasta with parsley and butter, cucumber and onion salad with yogurt dressing and blackberry pie. Scott assisted her in her culinary efforts. At the table, when we oohed and ahhed, Scott said, “Glad you’re enjoying it. I’ve enjoyed many good meals you’ve prepared.”

Back home now, looking back at the weekend, I have a satisfied feeling. Young people on their way to making their way in the world–and giving back while they’re doing it.