White Dog stepped back and let Sachi walk up Steve's body to stand on Steve's chest and say, "Hurry up, Dad! We barely have time for a quick game of 'Find Me' with your flashlight before the sun rises and we can sing a song of birthday greetings."
Then WD, along with all of the other White Dogs (including a very wobbly Trixie), surrounded Steve to start his special day with a blizzard of love.
"Come now," WD told everyone including Steve, "This part of your birthday celebration was meant for just us and dad. Let's let momma continue her rest. You know she will be crabby if we make her wake up at 5am." The group spirited Steve out of the bedroom but Benson remained to settle in beside me on the floor.
I heard all of them briefly before pulling the covers up and dozing off.
I woke to the smell of bacon sizzling and Opal hurtling through the room. On her way back in, she paused to say, "Come on! We are making birthday pancakes WITH bacon! BLUEBERRY pancakes!"
And so the day went. The White Dog Army had planned a day of simple pleasures that centered around being together and sharing little delicious moments of cuddling, working out in the yard, noshing.
True to her word, White Dog had put together a fabulous meal to substitute for the original plan that had been sidetracked. And there was a joyful buzz as we all pitched in to communally prepare the feast that included a favorites cheese plate to munch on while cauliflower roasted and the gorgonzola parsley potato cakes were fried up. Beautiful petite lamb chops rested in a rub of Indian-based spices waiting for a quick pan frying in butter and olive oil.
The freezer already held the strawberry ice cream cake that YoYoMa and Zsofia had chosen and which Nilla had helped frost with thick whipped cream. Stormer was amazingly delicate as he garnished the top with fresh berries.
There was gentle ambient music and not much talking as the meal ended; we all just basked in the glow of a day spent honoring, celebrating, and sharing the life of the guy who works so hard on our behalf and enriches us so.
At bedtime, each pup took a special moment to lick a hand, nudge a knee, or in some way personally acknowledge the importance of Steve in his or her life...and to say "I hope I have many many more opportunities to be part of sharing your birthday celebration in years to come."