I recently watched a emotionally charged video tribute that one of my Face Book friends posted with the death of their dog. This video sent me on a reflective journey of the relationships we have had with our dogs. Time limits we to addressing only those dogs in my life for the last two decades.
In a somewhat challenging period of our life it became apparent that our daughter needed a dog. One Saturday while my wife was having a ladies meeting, I took our children out to the stores to look around and have fun. Thinking back, I now recognize a specific intuitive “feeling,” “leading” “intuitive voice,” “prompting of God’s Spirit” and said, “let’s go into the local pet store.” This was a small locally owned store, not of the mall size and style. Once inside we discovered two very young puppies. One of them was instantly ours. We surprised my wife when we went home with this little ball of fur. A dear friend at the time saw the immediate impact this little heart stealer had on my daughter and gave us the money to cover the cost of its purchase. Joyful became exactly that to our lives throughout her life. Despite the fact that her immune system was messed up by the vaccinations she received as a puppy, she continued to both exhibit and bring joy to many people. Joyful was an incredibly intelligent and strong willed Corgie mix. We took her to one the leading dog trainers in Canada at the time and even paid for extra lessons. The result, we were told, “You can have a family pet, or an obedient dog. She has a mind of her own. You choose.” We chose family pet. What a gem.
Our next dog came to us while I was out grocery shopping with our teenage children. It was a scorching hot day and these children were sitting on the sidewalk outside the grocery store with a box of puppies. There really was no battle. There was one little ball of fur that was calling out, “pick me!” Again we came home to show our prize to my wife. The vet check warned us this was a puppy mill dog and from day one we were working on Sandi’s health. Sandi came not knowing that a human voice speaking meant anything. It took us many months to help her figure this out. She loved to run and if you were not careful would bolt out the front door and allow you to run after her until she was tired. She grew much larger than she was expected to and was a loving and caring big giant. Just before her front door excursions were stopped by a gate on our front porch, in complete frustration, I dropped to the ground and acted like I had been hurt. Sandi was instantly back at my side to check things out. When our family unexpectedly had a bunch of rescue kittens end up in our lives, Sandi became their protector watching out for them and the little lasapoo puppy (Coby) who came into our lives. For the last number of months before Joyful lost her battle with cancer Sandi stayed close by her.
When Sandi’s kidneys failed and her hips gave out, in her 12th year and a couple of the cats also lost their life time battle with health challenges, Coby continued to mourn his loss after a number of months. This is when Diamond, an 18 month old border collie entered our lives again as a rescue situation. Diamond is now protector for Coby, who at 13 years is now deaf, but still active. Diamond has a sanguine personality and loves to run and play and chase the remaining cats. She gets up with the let’s play energy that continues until she falls to sleep.
I share this story for a reason. I remember growing up hearing a relative complaining to my Dad about their dog and making the statement after some abusive actions, “Its only a dog.” I have learned over the years that there is no such thing, as “only a dog.” Dogs are extremely intelligent, have different temperaments and personalities and often demonstrate incredible level of character which humans often lack.
Our dogs have always been family. We made that choice with Joyful many years ago and continue to do so today. There is much you can learn from a dog if you will pay attention.