Memorial Day

"Guess who's coming to visit, Coco? Stephanie!" said Emmy on Saturday. "She's going to show me horse properties. Isn't that a great way to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend?"

I wagged my tail. I like your granddaughter Stephanie, Mom. She's pretty. But I was confused. How could a horse get enough money to buy a property? And what was a property?

"It's for me, silly," said Emmy, kissing the top of my head. I guess she could read my mind because she was so close to my head. "It's a house that has enough land a horse to live on. I want to move to the Southwest and own a horse."

Emmy and I piled into Stephanie's van and headed out Williamson Valley Road. It was fun to sit in Emmy's lap. A big Samoyed lived in the first house, so I stayed in the van while Emmy and Stephanie, who is a Realtor, looked around. We looked at three or four houses. Emmy didn't find a house that would work.

"I've got Champagne tastes on a beer budget," sighed Emmy when we went to bed that night. I didn't know what to say, so I just wagged my tail.

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About a year ago Emmy saw a note a woman in Chino Valley posted on the City-Data forum about selling her house, and she emailed Susan. Susan invited us to her house for Memorial Day.

"Look, Coco, horses!" Emmy said as we drove the long, strait, dusty roads of Chino Valley. A lot of people in Chino Valley own horses. We hit a couple of potholes that bounced me right out of my car seat--oof-da! Susan's house was surrounded by huge cottonwood trees.

Susan has three dogs, all of which seemed to bark more in five minutes than I'm allowed to in a year. I was out of my element. Susan was sweet. She shooed the two scariest dogs out of the house and into the front yard. We went into the back yard. There was a corral, a mare motel, and something fat and gray and furry peeking over the fence: a donkey!

The donkey's name was Surprise. Can you see Surprise's long eyelashes in the picture, Mom? Emmy and I fell in love with her. We wanted to bring her back home with us.

For all of her 17 years, Surprise has lived with Susan. No one knew Surprise's mother was pregnant. Then one day out popped a baby donkey. Surprise!

"'Prize brays so loudly every morning I have to get out of bed and feed her at 6:00 a.m.," laughed Susan. I could tell Emmy was thinking about her beauty sleep. It would be just the two of us going home, I knew.

Susan just retired from the sheriff's office. I looked around nervously. I was hoping she wouldn't find a reason to handcuff me as I explored her yard. I could write a book about the things I smelled at Susan's house. Plants, shrubs, weeds, wee, squirrels, coyotes, bugs, birds, snakes--you name it. And do you know the best thing? When Emmy went to the bathroom Susan snuck me some treats.

Emmy and I had a good holiday. Thank you, Susan! And thank you, Surprise!

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Mom, your friend Val, at Elite Reflections, was also in high spirits for Memorial Day. The girls at the shop went all out decorating their year-round artificial tree with a patriotic theme.

"We'll keep the red-white-and-blue on till after the Fourth of July," said Val, who cut and styled Emmy's hair. Val took a picture of Emmy and me by the tree.

"In some parts of Virginia they'd call this a har-do," said Emmy, squinting in the car's vanity mirror. "What do you think, Coco? I like it, but it's more than I'm used to."

I thought Emmy looked great. I wagged my tail. It was time for dinner.