As my birthday approaches, I note another year has gone by. Not only do I miss the energy of my youth, I long for high heels, dancing the night away and the pleasures of being young and beautiful.

The other day I was reading with Charlie lying on the floor beside my feet. I looked down at him and he was gazing at me with so much love in his eyes that I started to cry. Reaching down to pet him, I said, “You don’t know I’m old, do you?”

We’ve been together for almost 10 years. Living in Albuquerque I didn’t know many people and my yellow lab had unexpectedly died two weeks before I left California. Buster, my basenji, and I made the trip to New Mexico, both of us missing Lucy. She was only 5 years old, always eager to play. Basenjis don’t bark so he was a quiet dog. We missed Lucy’s playfulness.

“I’m going to find you a playmate,” I told Buster one morning before I left for the Humane Society.

Looking at the dogs made me wish I could take several of them home. In one cage were two puppies. One was standing over the other one, his tail wagging like mad, a look of complete joy on his small face. That was the one for me.

Buster wasn’t thrilled with this tiny ball of energy. Charlie ran between his legs, jumped on him and tried to engage him in play before collapsing in exhaustion.

A visit to the vet confirmed he was in good health but the vet thought he was younger than 6 weeks old. Someone had found him wandering the streets when he was about 2 weeks old, a malnourished, sad-looking creature.

Because he was fascinated with Buster, and Buster never once had an accident in the house, Charlie quickly became housebroken. A visit from my daughter, Madi, around Christmas resulted in her teaching him to fetch. Charlie was eager to fit in with our family.

A few years later, it was time to put Buster down. With Buster gone and Charlie dependent solely on me for entertainment, my behavior changed. Leaving Charlie alone became difficult. Not only did I cancel social engagements but I began taking him with me to outings, even though it wasn’t appropriate to do so. I’d call the hostess to ask if I could bring him along. Once there, he would run around crying, wanting to go home. Friends told me to accept that Charlie was a dog and he’d be fine home alone for a few hours. I hated to leave him.

When Buster was gone about a year, a friend called and told me there was a dog that needed a home. “No,” I said. “I don’t want another dog.”

Toots entered our lives and everything changed. The two of them bonded. I don’t mind leaving them alone at home and I now have two dogs to love. And they love me even though I am an old woman!

Alexis Powers is the author of several books and lives on the northwest side. Email her at northwest@azstarnet.com or view her website at www.alexis-powers.com