One family, 9 dogs and the story of love
Why dogs and family go together
Cat person I am not. I cannot remember a time where there hasn't been a dog in my life. My father loved labs while my mom played with shitzus and dachshunds.
Growing up surrounded by the woods and no neighbors to play with, our dogs were my best friends. I loved to explore and read. My pals were there to share both experiences.
One of my most horrifying childhood experiences is the time I got lost in the woods. It was just another adventurous afternoon. Deer trails offered a pathway to some mystical land. Me and my entourage wove our way through the shrubs and deadwood.
I remember it appeared to get darker and that was when I stopped. Looked around. And realized I had no idea where I was at.
That easy. That quickly. I was lost.
With my heart racing I began to run (mistake number one...okay two)--no thought, just sheer panic. I remember screaming for help, for Mom or Dad, someone to find me. I yelled until my throat was raw. And then I stopped.
Keno (our black lab) and Rainey (our dachshund) were right next to me. Can you believe that!? They must have thought I had gone mad. Why weren't they scared of me? With tears streaming down my face, I looked at Keno and grabbed a hold of her fur. "Go home, Keno." And she did.
Mom had no idea I was in distress (so much for a mother's seventh sense--wink, wink). It was the strangest sensation to realize that during my moment of terror, life had been uneventful for everyone else.
I'm not sure how long I would have stayed lost had it not been for Keno. She will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Sweet Suzy Joins the Family
Married with two children, dogs were still a part of our family. There was the Husky given to us and we soon discovered why. Huskies do not belong to anyone who live in a trailer park. They were born to run. As soon as he had the chance, that was exactly what he did and that was the last time we ever saw him. Then the Border Collie. Loved her but the landlord did not. She loved to snap at branches while in the back of the truck. Really messed up her teeth. Didn't matter what we did she loved trying to "catch" them. She always stayed home so we never could figure out what happened to her. She was followed by a Golden Lab (also adopted from another family) who loved to chase cars. I'm sure you know the end to her story. And then came Suzy.
Suzy was a rescue dog. The humane society told me she was part lab part boxer. Umm, no. Try lab and Rottweiler. The best way to share her story is with the Ode I wrote.
Suzy was my beloved pet
who I said goodbye to at the vet.
I brought her home amid my tears
where she now rests without any fears.
I first met her behind a steal cold cage
wondering if she was worth the wage.
A splash of white among a coat of black
concerned we wouldn't have the time to track.
And then I looked into her pleading, adoring eyes
to discover an immediate bond and cherished prize.
You were sick on the trip home
where you were named despite the foam.
With puppy energy you pounced on us all.
You chewed the boat wires and we heard you bawl.
Chasing, hunting, digging, and roaming;
just some of the things you did combing.
Enemies, you had a few...
except for the landlord who had no clue.
When we moved you didn't give a whit
you continued traveling the mile to visit the pit.
As time moved on you slowed down
still visiting those closer around.
The UPS man and district elites
loved to say hello with tasty dog treats.
Twelve years passed, your love never wavered
you will always remain our pet favored.
As your body slowed down and began
to cause pain, I anguished over our biggest fan.
Unable to greet us due to a disease
that had invaded your body."Please!"
your eyes begged. "I don't want to languish.
I trust you even as I lie here in anguish."
And so I bundled you up for your last trip,
all the while biting my quivering lip.
We carried you in and onto the table.
I held your head and kept you stable.
Your adoring eyes were the final thing I saw.
Saying goodbye was the last straw.
Whenever I gaze at your heartfelt cross,
I am reminded, not of our loss,
but of the happiness you brought
to each of us you lovingly sought.
Suzy, you were our beloved dog,
who we buried in the cold, milky fog.
"Dang it, Dooley!"
I am not sure why but we seem to be the family that takes in dogs. We ended up with Dooley because the previous owners were unable to care for him the way he needed. Basically his first two years was on a rope. Another reminder that dogs need room to explore and need to bond with people.
He was a mess...beautiful...but a mess. He was two but might as well have been a puppy. Stubborn. Nothing seemed to phase him either. He'd steal your sock and dared you to catch him. Which of course we couldn't. We would take him to the river and he would refuse to get back in the truck. Take him to the beach and he'd swim out, grab a hold of a kelp bulb and try to swim back to shore. Twice he gave me a heart attack. I could hear him whining and could see his front paws come up and out of the water, desperately trying to swim! Twice I went into the frigid water thinking I would save him. Now who was the smart one of the two?
He wasn't with us that long. Broke his tether while we were at work and was hit by a car. I knew if we ever got a dog again, we were going to make sure the highway wouldn't claim her.
The Magic of Marley
We never thought we would have another dog. Losing them is just so hard. But our daughter really wanted a pet. She was in love with Border Collies. We had had one and knew that this breed needed a lot of attention and training--I couldn't handle their endless energy. After research, we decided the perfect compromise was a lab-collie mix.
The Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue actually had a lab-collie litter ready for adoption. I'm all about rescuing dogs. On our way I asked my daughter what she was going to name her new dog. We happened to be listening to a Bob Marley song. When she found out the artist's name, she was inspired. Marley was to be the name of her soon-to-be friend.
Now I have been around a lot of smart dogs; but Marley, she has got to be one of the smartest. She knows the difference between bed and bath. Use the same inflection to say, "bath" and she runs and hides. Say "bed" and she calmly lies down on her bed. She learned how to stay and "wait for it" when you toss her a ball or stick. "Truck-up" and she jumps in the truck. She quickly learned how to walk behind the hunter and to stay off the brand-new carpet after she had been allowed on the old one for years. You know that saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Well, it doesn't apply to Marley.
And when the Schwan Man arrives, well she is so giddy she can barely contain herself. Just say "Schwan Man" and her ears perk up and she's looking out the window to see if we're telling the truth or not. She knows that the delivery guy is actually a dog whisperer--I swear he is. He'll talk to her and then give her two dog biscuits. Every two weeks she is over the moon for this guy.
Marley is also the first dog who tells on herself when she does something wrong. Like nose around in the trash or dig in the garden. The trash is mostly her way of saying she's mad--Dad hasn't been home enough or hasn't taken her fishing.
As for her relationship with my daughter, Marley treats her like her sister. I kid you not. When Marley is annoyed, she will lift her head, give her the look and if that doesn't make her stop, Marley will get up and move. Marley views Dad as the Alpha and if I hadn't worked at being the Alpha-Beta she probably would treat me much like she treats my daughter.
There are so many ways she has become a part of our family. The way she nuzzles you when you build a fire and the way she makes you laugh when she is chasing birds. Her love for us is deep as is her loyalty. I hate to imagine our life without her.
I am a dog person. I will always be a dog person. They have so much to give. My dogs have been my partners in crime, my saviors--in ways I cannot count--and my friends. When I imagine what our family would have been like without them...I just can't.
And that is why family and dog are one.