Gilbert2Our 6-month-old Maltipoo puppy Gilbert is just a little fella. He weighs approximately 6 pounds. He’s as cute as can be with short, curly, tan hair and little, dark-brown button eyes and nose.


He loves to play whenever you want to play, but when it’s time to relax, he’s more than willing to sit on your lap or snuggle right up next to you. In the three short months we’ve had him, Gilbert has been an excellent puppy.


My only complaint about little Gilbert is his over-eagerness when company arrives. He jumps and plays and nips and rips around the house at warp speed in order to be sure he’s getting everyone’s undivided attention. Our visiting family, neighbors and babysitters can attest to this.


One thing in particular we like to do with Gilbert is take him on walks around downtown Millersburg, just down the little street from where we live. My Fitbit tells me I get about 2,500 steps in during the Gilbert walks. Based on his tiny legs, I’d guess Gilbert’s steps number about 10,000. Needless to say, the little guy is pretty tired by the time we get back home.


Each and every time we walk with Gilbert, a phenomenon occurs. This tiny fluff ball has the ability to make everyone smile. People walking by and even those driving by take one look and grin.


I’ve noticed several different levels of smiles that Gilbert evokes.


The first level of smile I tend to see is what I would call the standard smile. Someone spots our mini dog being walked by big ol’ me, and I happen to look up and catch them looking at him with a simple smile as they move along.


The second level consists of the standard smile, but then another component is added. The person sees Gilbert as they drive by, and they smile, then glance again, rubber neck it or hold their gaze, and take a longer look at his cuteness.


The third level is one that’s happened only twice and has really surprised me both times. This is when the passerby spots him, smiles and then alerts the others in the vehicle who then look out the window at Gilbert and smile as well.


To round out the progressive Gilbert effect, there are those times when folks have noticed him, smiled and then interacted. People walking by have stopped to talk to Gilbert and pet him and then conversations start between us.


Those who know me know that I have no problem making conversation with people, even strangers. So I particularly enjoy chatting about Gilbert and hearing stories of the poochie dogs of others.


Once a car load of tourists stopped us along the street and rolled down their windows to reveal their own little dog. We talked for a few minutes and walked away smiling.


Another time an older fellow slowed down and then stopped right along the street to holler out his window, “What kind of dog is that?” A short interaction resulted, and he drove away smiling.


It’s pretty cool that an adorable little dog can so consistently bring about a smile. Having said that, I give Gilbert credit for only about 90 percent of the smiles we get.


I mean let’s be honest. Don’t you think about 10 percent of the smiles are a result of seeing a big, 225-pound, 6-foot-tall, bald-headed, tattooed-up man being led around by a tiny fluff-ball prancing puppy? I’d be foolish not to think it looks a little silly.


Regardless of why, it is nice to see people smile. No matter who you are — a light-hearted person or an old grouch — somethinghas got to make you smile. It seems like puppies and kittens can usually make people smile.


Kids, especially babies, seem to be almost everyone’s kryptonite. You have to smile at kids; they give us so many opportunities to smile.


Kids are cute. They are silly. Kids and babies have the best laughs and giggles. Their filter hasn’t developed, so they tell things they shouldn’t and say words they shouldn’t.


I admit it. More than once I’ve laughed when my child or grandchild dropped an unexpected and shockingly naughty word.


A few years back my wife and I used to go with the residents of the Holmes County Home to area parades. We’d walk along and pass out candy. The small kids were cute to watch as they excitedly gathered the parade candy, but the smiles I enjoyed the most were the ones from the older silver-haired ‘kids’ when I handed them a sucker or a Tootsie Roll. It made me smile when I got them to smile.


“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” — Mother Teresa.Gilbert1

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