My Favorite! Oodles of Poodles with Writer and Teacher Alicia Churchill

The My Favorite! column is a weekly celebration of all things joyful. The parameters are simple. I asked some creative friends to write a few sentences about something that gives them great joy. Could be anything. An album or painting. That feeling when you’ve spun in a circle for as long as you can and then tried to walk. Or in this case, poodles.

Alicia Churchill

One thing that honestly brings me joy, reliably and daily, is my dogs. People can be cool sometimes too, but I have never known a person who could not help but jump up and down every time I entered the house, even if I had only gone out for 30 seconds for the mail. I have never known a person who was so enthusiastic about my cooking that they sat by the stove, casually licking their lips, and giving me hopeful glances, the entire time I cooked dinner.

It’s not just about their love for me, or for my lasagne, though. My dogs give me joy when I let them out the back door, and they leap off the deck like cartoon reindeer, telegraphing fearless ecstasy that I can pick up from them just by seeing them lift off. My dogs give me joy when they wake me up in the morning to tell me that somebody, they are not saying who, may have gotten into the laundry basket and torn up my new favorite socks. They give me joy because they can communicate a sophisticated range of emotions, including reproach, when I leave, and they sit together on my couch, pretending they will just sit there like that, being good, but so lonely, until I return. They give me joy when they choose a favorite toy, and rather than destroy it immediately like a lesser toy, they cherish it and scold it like a baby, keeping it safe for years.

For Thomas the precious toy is a green alligator made of felt, with a squeaky thing inside it. For Molly it is a stuffed squirrel which she sometimes has to discipline severely if it doesn’t listen. My dogs give me joy when they sit together, shoulder to shoulder, looking out the window, watching for interlopers. If Thomas tilts his head, then Molly does too. If he raises an ear, she does too. If he barks at a squirrel she barks too. The only place they differ is with the television. Thomas doesn’t care for dogs, cats, horses, bears, or cartoons of anything resembling a possible threat. Molly seems to know that the television is not real, and she sits back on the couch watching him freak out with a bemused look on her face. When he tries to look behind the TV, she rolls her eyes at me.

Alicia Churchill is the entertainment coordinator at the Walnut Street Cafe in West Lynn, where she lives with her two West Lynn Poodles, a new breed of very fierce companion animals and her husband Jim Chalmers. She also teachers 7th grade, and writes stuff.




Want to share your joy?
You can participate in the My Favorite! column. Just send me a paragraph or two about something that makes you delightfully happy, a short bio, and a photo of yourself. If you have a photo of the happy-making thing, that would be great to. Get in touch at

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