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Aunt Linda has arrived early to spend Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day with us, and with her comes Wrigley, the dog she stole from Mom and Dad’s next door neighbor.

Good job, too; that jerk thoroughly neglected Wrigley. And he a minister.

After lifetime penned alone in the back yard, and after a battery of veterinary treatment long overdue—infections dosed, parasites poisoned, open sores bandaged, malnutrition fed—Wrigley is making the transition to household pet just fine. But the signs of years of neglect are still there.

He doesn’t beg properly, for one. He knows he can get table scraps, but hasn’t developed the technique for pumping humans for tidbits, not even soft touch Aunt Linda. He thoroughly enjoys being pet, but isn’t okay with being pet unexpectedly. He still finds a gentle hand from behind alarming. It’s heartbreaking.

No dog deserves neglect, but a golden retriever least of all. No breed is sweeter and more loving. Hell, no creature on earth is sweeter or more loving than a golden.

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