Thirteen years ago, I spotted her at a fall bazaar. She was the smallest of the litter and the only female pup waiting to be rescued. I already had a dog (Molly) and two cats (Mickey and Guy), but who could resist this little Westie? I’d had this breed before and they are adorable, feisty terriers. I applied and went through a home visit with the Westie Rescue people to see if I was an appropriate owner (something I never had to do to have four kids) and then went to the vet to pick up this little one as soon as she could leave her mother. I mean. Really. What a cutie. Her name was Annabel. I tried to find a great Scottish girl name and Annabel was just fine, so I kept it.

Please note the little lamb toy that she has had since she was a baby.

Because Molly was a Labradoodle, she had the retriever trait of carrying something around in her mouth all the time. Annabel didn’t have anyone else to mimic, so she carried that lamb everywhere. I put it away at some point in her life so the big animals wouldn’t chew it up and found it this last year and gave it back to her. It’s like she never stopped carrying it. I find it all over the place in my house. Here she is recently.

From the very beginning, Annabel fit in with the other animals.

Annabel was Molly’s little sidekick, following her everywhere, doing whatever she was doing. She has a little hop skip she does now from Molly stepping on her foot when she was little. She was always walking under Molly or racing beside her.

Black and white, big and little. They were the best of friends and did everything together. They loved to go to the groomer, coming home clean and foofy, as we call it, with bows in their hair.

I haven’t mentioned Wanda, who came to live with us at some point. She belonged to my daughter-in-law and son and I ended up having her the last nine of her 16 or 17 years. She was a sweetie and got along with all of them, except when there was food involved, which is when the terror in terrier came out in Annabel and she might go after anyone. Annabel was the fastest at snapping up dropped food from under the other dogs’ noses.

I tried to keep Annabel clean and groomed, but she is a born mess. She is true to her nature and digs for moles in the yard, yaps at squirrels and chases rabbits and barks for whatever reason. Maybe that’s to let the world know she’s there since she looks awfully tiny out in the big ole’ world.

She also likes to play in the snow when we have it, romping around like a little kid.

I tried for the show dog look, but it was useless since I wasn’t going to brush her all the time, so we’ve gone for a shorter cut.

At least Westies don’t shed like my other dogs and cats did, so that’s a plus. She just always has a dirty face and her white coat looks less white next to my daughter’s Westie. It’s ok.

When she’s not on guard, she used to nap with her friends or in a sunbeam or on the deck.

One thing we never mastered was taking walks all together. Molly would run ahead and Annabel would choke trying to catch her and she would run under Molly’s legs or around mine. Besides, Molly’s legs were a lot longer than Annabel’s and a walk around the block was a big deal for the little one. The times they managed to run out the front door or escape the back yard, it was actually pretty cute to watch them race down the street together. I had to get in the car and go catch them, knowing that getting Molly first would bring Annabel with her. They would both be grinning when I caught them in their big adventure.

I tried the dog park with them. Molly was great, but Annabel would go into a frenzy because she had to stay in the small dog side away from her friend. It was a disaster unless I took Molly alone.

If anything unusual was happening in the house, such as me cleaning for a party or packing for a trip, both dogs would settle to watch me in what I called their worried position, with Molly lying down and Annabel tucked in beside her. I tried to explain to them that I would be through soon or be back soon, but they always were concerned.

This last year was a good one for the dogs. I’ve been home and was able to pay a lot of attention to them. Molly’s age was taking its toll and I spent a lot of time sitting outside in the sun talking to her and watching her last months. Wanda left us a year or so ago and the cats were killed by a coyote that started roaming our urban neighborhood, so I had gone from five animals to two pretty quickly. Now Molly’s time was coming to an end.

I think animals know a lot about life and death. Molly had grieved when my dog before her died and then I got the cats and Annabel and she was happy being the matriarch of this funny family. As much as she craved affection from me, she loved having her friends. I wasn’t sure how Annabel was going to take this. In the last few months, Molly couldn’t jump up on the couch or into the car and I found Annabel getting in bed with her a few times.

She had to know. Molly was falling down and couldn’t hear and I was having to help her get outside. I treated her like I would like to be treated at the end. In the last couple of days, Annabel would check on her and be by her side.

I didn’t know if she would mourn her best friend, but I think she knew and she’s older herself so maybe she sensed the time had come. Maybe she’s enjoying just being the only dog rather than being just the youngest and the smallest. She certainly has more of my attention than she’s ever had. She has no idea what a pandemic is, but I think she’s very happy with it.

Now it’s just the two of us, Annabel and me. I’ve started taking her in the car with me rather than leave her alone. She got a new cute collar and harness so we can take more walks. She wakes up in the night and waits to be lifted onto the bed with me. She’s not really a lap dog, but she has been in the chair with me a couple of times. She’s still on the alert for squirrels and ready to bark at the slightest movement outside.

Annabel is MY little sidekick now and we’re ready for the new year!