Dogs I have loved
It’s time for a bit nostalgia, which is way better than 2am angst.
I was born into a household with a dog, a black mongrel with brown spotted eye brows. I heard once that Native Americans had a name for these markings on a dog, but damned if I can remember what it was. When I was around 7 years old he went missing on the 4th of July. I cried for days. I got a stye in my eye and thought it was called a ‘pig stye’ which was confusing because that was also what my room was called. Blackie was found a week later miles and miles away living on someone’s porch. I remember my father using a pliers with a coffee can of alcohol on the ground next to him, to pull off the hundreds of tablet sized ticks on him. I had to go off because I couldn’t bear the sound of the dog’s yelping. Blackie lived a few more years and one night he didn’t come home. I found him dead under the bushes in front of our house. He was a gentle dog who I wish I could meet again now that I’m an adult and might see him for the magnificent friend he was.
After Blackie we adopted Samantha, an untrained smooth coat fox terrier that had been forced to live in my cousin’s basement. The first day I tried to take her for a walk when I came home from school at lunch she ran away from me. I remember crying, my fish net stocking puddling around my ankles. I also remember being so mad when she came home. I had a flash of understanding that she didn’t know why I was yelling at her, but I yelled anyway. She died from complications caused by eating stockings. During the summer she did accompany me on walks through the cranberry bogs. My mother always told me to ‘take the dog’. I think she believed that Sam would protect me from evil doers. But this was over 40 years ago and kids still did things like go for walks by themselves and could be protected by fat little dogs.
For my 16th birthday I was gifted with an 8 week old puppy I named Treble. We were in love. She was beautiful, a bit sensitive and when I left her with my parents when I went away to college I suspect I broke her heart. She broke mine when I had to euthanize her after she was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. One winter we slept in a rickety cabin above a shed that had a ramp she had to climb to get up into it. Her waterbowl froze next to an ineffective woodstove. After I buried her a friend’s dog followed me around and slept with me, uninvited. To date it was probably the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.
BC, a cute spaniel mix showed up at the summer camp where I was working when I buried Treble. I called him BC because he was wearing a blue collar. I think that collar is still lying around somewhere. BC had a better social life than I did. Counselors at the camp would take him for rides into town, he’d join them on mountain bike rides and jogs. Someone once told me they found him and another dog named Whitefield, who lived with us briefly, hanging out on an island they would have had to swim to. They swam back home too. BC moved to Vermont with my husband and I (we wouldn’t marry for another 17 years, and I always thought that the only reason John was spending time with me was because he loved BC and BC loved me). We had a dog door and BC’s dog friends in the neighborhood would come in, get him out of our bed and they’d go roaming the woods around our house. Rosie, our neighbor’s dog was such a regular visitor that we sent her home with a note on her collar that said ‘send cookies’ and the next morning she arrived with a bag of sugar cookies tied to her neck. I dug BC’s grave years before he died, always expecting that he’d never make it another year.
My friend John Farrar developed a brain tumor and when he died I was bequeathed his 2 female cocker spaniels, a mother/daughter pair, a red and a buff. These girls were the cutest, sweetest, easiest dogs I’ve ever lived with. Aside from stealing sandwiches from people picnicking when we went on hikes, they were dream dogs. I keep looking for them to have them back in my life again. Though they lived long lives, both their deaths were tragic and I cry even thinking about it, so there’s no way I’m going to write about it.
For a few years Spanky, a cute terrier mix lived with us. Spanky had been my sister’s dog but when he started to refuse to go outside and began pooping in closets he came to live with me. It turns out that a malfunctioning electric fence collar had burned him. No one thought to consider it as a cause for his behavior. I only found out about it years later and put 2 & 2 together. Spanky was a good dog, who refused to sleep at the foot of the bed and took up too much room. He had to be put to sleep after rupturing a disk. Our last day together was spent cross country skiing and Spanky was in the lead.
Finn our border collie came to live with us after the older of our cockers died. He is sweet boy who deserves better than what he has with me. He deserves a flock of his own sheep. We are his 7th home and he has never met a person he didn’t think could throw a frisbee for him. He is probably the main reason my fearful dog Sunny has done as well as he has. Sunny is ruthless about stealing frisbees from Finn, but Finn only grumbles a bit and goes and finds another.
Annie was suppose to be my beloved buff cocker Sabu. I knew she wasn’t but I so missed having a cuddly little cocker snuggled up against me under the covers that when I saw her face on Petfinder, and she was nearby, I had to give her a chance. She’s easily aroused, has piss poor social skills when it comes to meeting new dogs, and she barks at people way too much, but under it all she’s a sweet dog. She lived for 6 years with the same family and then had her life upended. I have tried to make her happy.
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