I am thankful that I have been blessed by having dogs in my life. This may sound trivial, but those of you who are true pet lovers and have had the companionship and unconditional love of an animal know of what I am speaking. Even as I write at this moment, there is a silky, warm, little soul on my lap with his head hanging off to the side, gazing at me with those eyes so dark with adoration. Well, maybe it’s not all adoration, it could be a look pleading and begging, “Please give me a treat! If I look pitiful enough will you give me one?” Actually, I know he is really thinking, will you get off that %#&%# computer and let’s go to bed!
The first dog I remember having was a little black mutt named Tippy. I’m sure as a young kid I must have been aggravating her the time she nipped the side of the cheek and drew blood. I still have a tiny scar from that. She lived in a pen in the back yard, and I now know she was probably terribly frustrated. It was my big brother’s job to feed her each evening. He would go out there with that foul smelling can of dog food and gag as he spooned it into the dish. I remember calling to her one day only to realize it was her lifeless body lying in the grass.
The next dog in my life was Dolly. My mama got her from somebody, and she was supposed to be a cute little peek-a-poo that would be a house dog. That didn’t last too long, and Dolly joined Tippy in the pet cemetery near the back fence. After I had married and left home, my Mama called one day. “A dog has “taken up” here and I can’t keep her. Why don’t y’all take her?” She had a soft heart for dogs but didn’t really want to deal with them on an everyday basis. My husband and I made the trip across town and rode back home with a big mongrel on my lap. She seemed sweet enough, and we called her Poochie. I did not want to get too attached. I had a feeling she would not be long for this world. Covered with flea bites, both of us, I got her to the vet the next day. She was old, she was sick, and she could barely walk. My suspicions were right and Mama paid to send her on her way across the rainbow bridge, seeing as were poor newlyweds.
Finally, we got our first dog by choice. Max was a wire-haired fox terrier. I trained him, groomed him, and taught him tricks. He was one smart dog, except for one fault. He could not keep from playing with and chewing on the abundant hickory nuts that fell from the five hickory nut trees in our yard. We went through one surgery to remove them from his gut and he recovered, but the next year we were not so fortunate. He loved them dearly but this time they made it past the stomach and he did not survive. We were devastated. He was our baby. Shortly before he passed, we had mated him. Somehow, the dame ended up with a mixed litter that could not be sold as purebreds, but we took one of his pups as our own. By that time, we had our first human baby, and we couldn’t think of a cool name for the new puppy, but since all our initials were JC, that became his name. Admittedly, with a human baby in the house, he never got the same attention as Max. He was a house dog, but loved being outside. Only problem was, he would not be confined and climbed the chain link fence! Usually he would turn up at the front door, having visited around the neighborhood. Of course, the inevitable eventually happened. One day, he just never came home. We searched the roadsides and the pound, and put out signs and lost dog notices all to no avail. That was the last of JC.
It was several years before we decided to have another dog. We had three boys by then, and I felt like they needed a dog. My husband, on the other hand, did not agree. So of course, I got a dog. An acquaintance at work was giving away new puppies, so we got a dog. A cute, no-so-little mutt, just right for three boisterous boys and my Mama who lived with us by that time. The boys named him Bandit. I wanted Bandit to be a house dog, and I don’t know if it was him or us, but that just didn’t work out. We did have a fenced yard so he was an outdoor dog, no pen, and plenty of room to run and play. He loved my Mama, and when the boys grew less enamored with him she was his main source of affection. He lived happily for several years. We noticed he was slowing down with age, and as old dogs do, he went off to the back corner of the yard, went to sleep, and never woke up. Bless his heart.
The years went by and the boys all left home, and Mama passed away. I don’t know why or how, but at some point my husband and I decided we needed a dog in our lives again. I was determined it would be a house dog, a real member of the family, and I would make sure it got trained properly. We didn’t mind the high energy breeds, and wanted something small but with a big personality, so we settled on a Jack Russell Terrier. Oh boy!
Goldie was precious from the day she came into our lives. As the grandchildren started to come along, they loved her and she loved them. She could be feisty and protective, and she was quick as lightning. Her one fault? Well, besides the hair she shed copiously, was separation anxiety. She did not like to be left anywhere without us. When she was about 8 years old, there came a time when I knew we would have to be away from her for a family wedding, and all the other family members that usually kept her for us would be away with us. I started preparing her well ahead. I researched and found a boarding kennel that was a farm with a huge fenced pasture the dogs could run and play in. They offered doggie day care, traditional kennel boarding, and “homestyle” boarding, where they could stay in a room in the house with air condition, tv, couches, and their own bedding and toys. Of course I was willing to pay to go all out for her. We did several drop off play dates in the weeks leading up to the time she would need to stay. I filled in the caretakers on all her little quirks. When the time came for her to stay overnight for two nights I was not concerned. Alas, it was a false comfort. While we were enjoying wedding festivities in Pine Mountain Georgia, Goldie decided to sneak out the gate of the farm as someone was coming in and made her dash to freedom. We never found her. Days and weeks of combing woods, calling her name, posting signs, false alarms, were to no avail. We never knew what became of her. I still occasionally find little white Goldie hairs around the house. I just figure she is sending us love messages.
It was over three years later before we felt ready to be doggy parents again, and so there is Jazz, a black/brown/tan Yorkshire Terrier. He is our baby in every way. We’ve had our ups and downs with him, and one near fatal attack by a bigger dog, (read about it here), but he is firmly settled in our hearts and home. He is seven years old now, and I am already dreading the old-age dog years. I am already thinking he may be our very last fur-baby. Not sure we can go through another loss. So yes, he is spoiled, and loved, and cuddled and coddled. And he is still gazing at me, begging, can’t we please go to bed now? So, good night all, sweet dreams and may you meet all of your fur-babies again one day on the other side of the rainbow bridge.