My family always had a dog. Every dog has it own bowl, its own water dish, its own bed, its own spot in the kitchen. And all these years our dogs never knew they were dogs. They were family.
Later my husband and I always had a dog. My husband worked in the college physics and chemistry labs to help pay the tuition. He wasn’t allowed to take money. At the end of the first year, the professor invited us to visit his home and gave us a new, six week old cocker spaniel, Mr. Dithers. He traveled with us. He hiked and camped with us. He stared at a deer which stared back,a bear caught him, dragged him across a wooded hill. Rescued, he survived with the help of an outdoor vet. (Eighteen years we enjoyed him). He went to college in Denver every day. He was the only dog in history that earned a graduate degree.
Then came the elegant gentle Miss Baggins Bella Donna Took. How she acquired such a name is unknown but it was a conversation bit from Colorado to Alaska to Arizona. She traveled with us by car, by airplane, on foot. She knew sit, stay, and come. She also knew she was one of our people.
Next came a feisty, independent, throw away puppy. A neighbor of a friend didn’t want him. We did and he moved in and took over. Life was lived his way. He hated the leash-our city dogs never went out without a leash. He taught us the routine and we learned from him.
Then came a shiny black cocker spaniel puppy. Beautiful and how she knew it. She was first out the door, first in the door, first to be fed, first she was noticed. There was no mistake, she was the prima donna, and we spoiled her.
Next and last of the cockers came as a surprise. A phone call from our daughter in Washington D.C. “Mom, I sent you a surprise-its traveling by air and will arrive at noon tomorrow. It’s a surprise!” Indeed it was when we picked up a crate at the baggage-a gorgeous, scared, frantic golden cocker. Rushed out the door, me at the end of the leash, pinned in the back seat, shivering said “lets go”. Attached to the crate were notes from the baggage handlers- “walked the puppy” “talked to the puppy” “fed the puppy” “she’s a prize..take care of her” We did. She hid in the shadow-took two days to venture out of the kitchen, and soon was one of us. She moved into the bedroom, had her basket on one side. Never asked for a thing, always ready to go.
That should have been the end of our dog story
But an unlikely 6 week old dachshund flew down the street, jumped on my shoulder and said “here I am”. He helped rake up pine cones-I said “good dog” and found him at my door the next morning waiting by the paper. A dish of water-it was hot, a dish of food and he moved in-never left. A week or so later a little boy appeared at my door with a armful of fur-“here’s her sister”- and off he ran. Now I’ve two dachshunds-it’s a long sad story but no way will I give them up. It’s been 12 years so I guess they are mine.
Its unconditional love, never a bit of complaint, always there anon my side. When the time comes to say goodbye and that time does come-it’s traumatic. But I know and they know we have shared something very special. And none will be forgotten.