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My dog of a lifetime was Ben. He was an intelligent, mature, and loving dog. He used to sleep on my bed at night. You can read more about him in My Boy, Ben—A Story of Love, Loss and Grace.
Bugatti is my dog of a lifetime. A constant companion and a gift from God!
SAMPLE: Ben was my boy . . . and he knew it. From that first August morning I held him, a soft and adorable, buff-colored Labrador puppy, to the final afternoon nearly nine years later, a deep and endearing relationship was forged between a man and his dog that brought the simplest and best of earthly joys, the depths of grief and sorrow, and ultimately, comfort and grace beyond all expectation.
He was a constant presence in my life. Whether next to my bed at night or my desk by day, whether asleep on my lap on the couch or begging food beside me at the table, whether on walks or hikes or road trips—actually, any trip in the car—Ben was just always there.
But the depth of my relationship with him was a result of more than solitude, time, and care. It was rooted in the kind of dog Ben was. Beyond his physical traits—his athletic build, beautiful coat, pleasing face, and almond-shaped brown eyes—it was his noble character and endearing personality that caused people to almost invariably remark, “What a sweet boy.” Then the questions would begin, “Where did you get him?” “Has he always been that calm?” “Did you train him to do that?”
I tried to deflect some of the praise because I knew very well that I was merely an amateur owner who had been blessed with a truly exceptional dog—a dog of a lifetime.
** Excerpt from the Introduction to My Boy, Ben—A Story of Love, Loss and Grace by David Wheaton
Mac”Kenzie” is probably my dog of a lifetime~~several lifetimes. I have had many dogs over my life and all were wonderful pets in their own time. Kenzie came to us when my husband found her listed on Craigslist. He knew how badly I wanted a dog, a black Lab in particular. She was 3 months old when we got her and we lived trhough all the major issues of eating a box of rat poison, drink cans, Tylenol, etc. My husband loved her dearly and when he was diagnosed and being treated for canc”Dr er, she was he daily comfort while I had to be away at work. Patrick was a “Dr Doolittle” and loved all animals. Kenzie surpassed all others though through her faithfulness and affection. She stayed on the bed beside him throughout his illness. Following his death, Kenzie became my shadow and never leaves my side. She sleeps on the bed beside me and has been a tremendous comfort for me, in the absence of my soul mate! She is now my soul mate and is truly a loving companion. I pray that she will be with me for many years still. I don’t know what I do without her! It is so hard to go off and leave her for any reason. She would go with me everywhere if were reasonable. She is a warm physical being who is so giving and loving!
The photos are when she was new to us!
Jasper was my Brittany Spanial and the best dog I ever knew.From the day 12 years ago when my wife and I picked him up as a puppy and he got car sick and threw up on my wife to the day I had to put him down last June.Jasper was my best friend and on his dog tags I had ingraved Jasper Loves Everybody-That was him! He was my ice fishing buddy and was he’d sit in the fish house with me and look and me and wag the stubby Brittany tail.He loved to get new squeaky toys and each new one was his new favorite!~I miss him.~I am a big believer in puppy therapy~I have a new Brittany pup who just turned 8 months old.His name is Ronnie Reagan.Right now Ronnie is trying to get on my lap because I teared up a bit thinking about Jasper.I can’t imagine life with out a dog.
I wrote my story, but I can’t figure out how to attach a picture. I don’t have facebook, so I am going thru google. Any tips?
Mr. Wilson, our black Labrador retriever, two months shy of
his twelfth birthday has been a part of our family for the last eight years. We
got him from the daughter of a woman I worked with, who was too busy working
and pursuing a social life to offer him the attention and exercise he deserved.
She had trained him well since he was a puppy. My wife, Debbie and I adopted
him after a couple of overnight trial runs. We had a big fenced in backyard and
open town land that was an undeveloped park, out our back gate. He came with a
basket full of extra large plush toys.
Whatever he did he’d have to have a toy in his mouth. We’d be running down the
street and people driving by would just crackup or smile when they saw him with
a big hedge hog or watermelon in his mouth.
I’ve seen him run a 5k with me through the village carrying
the toy the whole way, not dropping it once. I added to that collection with
the biggest plush toy lobster I could find in Boston
after the marathon and a big blue crab toy from the eastern shore of Maryland.
Time for dinner, go for a pee, greet you at the door,
whatever, he’d grab a toy. If he dropped a toy while he was outside, I’d send
him back out yelling, “Where’s your
toy!”. He‘d run around frantically till he found his toy.
The lad was a big boy, 90lbs. when we got him and put on
another 12 lbs. over the years, and a big keel on him. He laid me out flat at
least three times in pursuit of
squirrels or other dogs. He could really get that mass in motion,
resulting in the demise of a few small
mammals that underestimated his speed. A quick shake of his
huge neck and it was all over. Then there was what my wife called the tail of
mass destruction in his ever present enthusiasm lamps, coffee cups and other
fragile objects were always in peril. A lot of the time he had the breath of
the Fulton street
fish market. When in bed with you he
snored like a drunken sailor and frequently ran in his sleep full bore shaking
the bed violently waking everyone until after several smacks on the rump he woke
up, only to start the cycle again. I think, because of his short comings, not
in spite of them, we loved that dog all the
more. When he rested that big noggin of his on your feet
while in bed we had a saying,”Can’t move now, crimes against dogs!” He’d get
fired up in doing just about anything, he just wanted to be with you. When you
had to leave in the morning to go to work, he’d
get in a snit and with his body language say,”Fine!” ,hop on the couch and ignore you. Come home at night and he’d
greet you like you just returned from the war.
Four and a half years ago, my wife was undergoing
chemotherapy for breast cancer, and Mr. Wilson was her constant companion. A
cold dark winter of chemo, when she dragged her bald, pale, sick body
downstairs, and her daily evolution of travelling from the couch to the kitchen
the bathroom and back again, the boy was her only solace. Those understanding
almond eyes and big blocky head nestled in her lap got her through the tough
patches. At night we had pack howls, to get all the bad stuff out.
Lost to stomach cancer 2011.
Dogs and Heaven
always been part of my life, from my earliest recollection. While
growing up, my family never failed to have a pet dog, and sometimes 2
or 3 of them at the same time. There was a period in my life where
they disappeared, that being the time I moved out of the house to go
to college, and then lived in apartments with various roommates until
I married I was 23 years old when I married my wife, Shari, in
1975. In 1979, we decided to get a dog, even though we were still
living in an apartment and had planned to wait until we got our first
house. We were childless not by choice, but a situation that health
concerns forced upon us. Unknown at that time, the dog would in
actuality become our child. This story is about the 12 wonderful
years we had together, and a shocking and surprising development at
It was early
March in 1979 when we started the search for our pet. Although our
apartment complex allowed dogs, we lived on the 3rd
floor and knew it would not be easy. We had not yet decided on what
breed we wanted, but narrowed the choice to medium-sized ones because
of the limited space. It was on a Thursday night that we closely
examined the classified ads for pets in the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. Friday morning we would set out for the great
search. We circled 3 ads for Bassett Hounds, Beagles, and Bichon
Frises. I don’t know why we got stuck on the B’s, but it seemed
like an omen at the time. There was one other ad that caught our
attention, though, and it had intrigued both of us. The breed was
one we had never heard of, Keeshond. In those pre-internet days,
you had to remain ignorant of those type mysteries, unless you had a
set of encyclopedias, which we had passed on numerous times from
pushy salesmen. The ad that grabbed us simply said “adorable teddy
bears.” It became the 4th
one circled, and phone calls were made to all four. All of the
breeders advised us they still had puppies left, so we made
arrangements to see them all the next day.
Our search took
us all around metropolitan Atlanta, and lasted the entire day, but in
the end we chose the Keeshond puppy, a female whom we named “Teddy”,
for the description the breeder had put in the paper. Teddy grew up
to be the perfect size dog for us. We had gotten a chance to see her
parents at the breeder’s house that day we brought her home. They
were in the back yard, and we saw them after we had already made up
our minds to get her. We would have brought her home that day if the
parents had turned out to be elephant-sized. She grew up to be about
the size of a Bassett Hound, and weighed between 40 and 45 pounds her
whole life. Her coat was beautiful, and she had no smell at all
because of the thick fur. Shari was amazed at how smart she was. We
had to start spelling words if we didn’t want her to know what we
were talking about, but eventually that didn’t work, either, as she
learned how to spell. Teddy was also the most disciplined and
well-behaved dog I had ever known. She responded to our voices in an
instant, and would do whatever we asked. She loved people, and loved
getting attention from strangers, but wouldn’t approach them
without the okay from me. If a stranger came toward her, she would
look at me first, and if I said “its
all right, go ahead,”
only then would she approach them with tail wagging and giant smile
on her face. The August after we got her in March was our first
vacation trip with her. We went to the beach, and she adored it.
She was an attention-getter wherever she went, due to her unusual
look and great beauty. On one of our later trips to the beach, we
didn’t know it, but we were being stalked at the hotel. An elderly
couple would follow us at a distance whenever they saw us outside
walking Teddy. Finally, one day the woman approached us as we were
sitting in the hotel courtyard near the pool. Teddy was of course
with us. Her husband was standing a few feet away as his wife asked
if we minded if she sat down next to us on the bench. We said sure,
we would love to have you, and Teddy greeted her warmly after she got
the approval. The lady then told us that she and her husband had
been following us because they just couldn’t get enough of looking
at Teddy. What came next broke our hearts. A Keeshond had been part
of their lives, also, and had passed away about a month ago, after 15
years of companionship. They initially thought that they wouldn’t
try to get another one, but after seeing us with Teddy, they had
decided to try to find one when they returned from their vacation.
At that time, Shari told her to have her husband come over and join
us. They were sweet people, probably in their mid 70’s, and we
talked to them for a long time. Teddy loved on both of them the
whole time, but when she sat in the man’s lap, uncontrollable tears
ran down his face. Teddy was only 3 at that time, so we hadn’t
given much thought to being without her until that encounter.
Knowing that it would be devastating if we lost her now, we could
only imagine the grief those people were going through after 15 years
with their child.
In 1983, when
Teddy was 4, we built our own house and moved out of the apartment.
Teddy loved every minute of it. It had a huge front yard, and a
nice, large front porch. During the day, we would put her on the
porch hooked to a long chain where she could wander out into the
yard. Most of the time, she would lay on the porch, but she enjoyed
her outside time that she never got in the apartments. For a long
time, the lot next door to us stood vacant, but eventually it was
bought and built on, and we had a neighbor. In the spring of 1990,
Teddy was 11 years old and our neighbor got a dog of his own. It was
a female Doberman puppy, no more than 8 weeks old. Our neighbor had
named her Chocolate, and built a pen in his back yard where she would
stay. The pen had a big dog house in it, and was big enough itself
for her to run around. During the day, she would get out of the pen
somehow and wander free. But she never went farther than our porch.
We used to watch her as she would peer around the corner of our house
at Teddy up on our porch. You could tell that she wanted to be up
there with Teddy, but she didn’t have the nerve yet. She would
creep up a little further each time, then run back to her pen.
Finally, she got up enough courage and climbed up on the porch with
Teddy. There she would lay until our neighbor would come home and
put her back into the pen. The funny thing was that Teddy was not
fond of other dogs at all. She was a people dog, and preferred to be
with them. But she took to this little puppy, and the two of them
would lay next to each other all day. It was the nights that were
hard on everyone. Chocolate was so lonely in her pen that she would
cry all night. From our back windows, you could see the pen clearly,
and she would stare at those windows as she cried the night away.
Finally, one night Teddy was looking out the back window at
Chocolate, and the cries became so pitiful that Teddy would just
stare at Shari. It was as if she was imploring Shari to do something
about it. Shari could stand it no longer and went out to the pen and
brought Chocolate inside our house. I have never seen a dog more
grateful than Chocolate was. She would run from me to Shari to
Teddy, thanking us all. We put a big blanket down for her to lay on,
and she wouldn’t budge from that blanket. You could tell that she
thought as long as she remained on that blanket, she wouldn’t have
to go back to the pen. She never did. If such a thing as co-opting
your neighbor’s dog is possible, we did it. He was very nice about
it, though. He could see that she was happy only with us, so she
became our 2nd
dog. The pen remained empty forever.
Because we had
become so close to Teddy over the years, Shari used to worry
constantly about losing her, knowing that her life-span wasn’t very
long. Another concern of hers was the thought by most theologians
that dogs do not go to heaven when they die. This bothered her
tremendously. This thought is out of a Bible passage that describes
animals as having no souls, thus making it impossible for them to get
into heaven. Shari would argue with me that she knew that Teddy had
a soul, because she would look into her eyes for long periods with
Teddy never breaking eye contact, and that she could see her soul in
there. For a period in the mid 80’s, we hosted a Bible study in our
house for a few people in our church. The preacher would also
occasionally attend these meetings. Many times, Shari would bring
the discussion over to this issue, but she could never convince
anyone. Finally, after one meeting, I told her that I wasn’t going
to argue with the church people, but it was my thought that
everything in the Bible isn’t necessarily the same today as it was
back when it was written. I told her that back in the biblical days,
animals were used as either beasts of burden or food. God may have
wanted it written that they have no souls in order to ease the
consciences of the men that had to use them that way. But today, we
make them part of our families, and certainly God can see the
difference. You can’t take everything in the Bible as literal as
when it was written.
The end came
sudden and unexpected. Teddy turned 12 in January of 1991, and for
the first part of the year, you couldn’t tell whether she was 12 or
3. She had always been in good health, and had plenty of energy.
Then, one day in October, Shari came to me and said she had been
watching Teddy pee, and there was something wrong with her urine. I
waited until the next time she had to go, and followed her out with a
coffee cup in my hand. When she started the stream, I quickly placed
the coffee cup between her and the ground and caught a good sample of
her urine. My heart sank when I saw that it was blood red. I didn’t
panic, though, because she was still in good health, and hadn’t
slowed down at all. It was probably just an infection, and some
antibiotics would cure it. We called Dr. Headley, our vet, and made
an appointment for the next day. He did some tests, and gave us an
antibiotic to give her, and said he would call us with the results.
His call did not carry good news. She had bladder cancer. He wanted
us to come in and pick up some stronger medicine, and wait a couple
of weeks before we decided on a course of action. Two weeks later,
she was worse. She would squat in the peeing position at least once
every 15 seconds, but there was no pee coming out. The cancer was
pushing against her bladder and giving her the sensation that she had
to go all the time. When we called Dr. Headley with this news, he
said to bring her right in. We had a decision to make. He could
operate right now and hope that the cancer was removable; we could
give her some medicine to make her comfortable and live out what was
left of her life; he could put her to sleep right now. He cautioned
us that the chances of surviving the operation were not in her favor.
No matter. Of course we would take that chance, so we told him to
operate. He cleared his whole calendar that day so he could do it
immediately. If she survived, she would have to stay the night in
the hospital, so we went home to await the results. The call came
about 3 hours after we had gotten home. Shari answered it, and her
scream of anguish told me all I needed to know. Teddy was gone.
When Dr. Headley opened her up, he saw that the cancer had spread so
badly that he never brought her out of the anaesthesia. Shari told
me later that he was crying as he gave her the news. The day was
November 7, 1991. The big news story that broke that day was that
Magic Johnson had AIDS. I couldn’t have cared less. That news was
so trivial to me, and besides, he had brought it on himself with his
reckless sexual behavior. Our little dog was dead, and she hadn’t
done anything to deserve it. That night was the hardest we had ever
faced together. Our grief was inconsolable, and I didn’t want to
go to sleep for what I would face when I woke up.
helped us get through the grief. Without her, I don’t know how we
would have handled it. It was strange, but one thing that bothered
both of us so much was that because of the hurried and frantic events
of that day, we did not get a chance to tell Teddy goodbye. It was
two days later when I made a surprising discovery. That morning, we
put Chocolate out on the porch as usual. She guarded our house well
from that porch, and always barked loudly at anything that came into
our yard, especially another dog. She was quiet that whole morning
on the porch, and it was early afternoon when I pulled out of the
garage to go to the store. I glanced back at the porch as I was
leaving, which was my habit. It was just to check to make sure
Chocolate was still there and okay. This time, I saw something that
made me stop the car and get out. It was a stray dog that had
wandered up on our porch and was laying beside Chocolate. I called
Shari out of the house, and we checked it out. This dog was small
and appeared to be very old. She was a mixed breed of some kind, and
had no tags or collar. We had never seen this dog before, and knew
every dog in the neighborhood. It was a female, and she wagged her
tail as we petted her. We couldn’t imagine why Chocolate hadn’t
barked when she came up there with her, but we saw no harm in her
staying on our porch until she decided to go home, wherever that was.
That afternoon after I got home from the store, we would take
Chocolate for her walk, which we did daily. We would walk about 2
miles through the neighborhood, and Chocolate loved it. Just a few
days ago, Teddy had taken that walk with us, as she always did. When
we started out that day with Chocolate on the leash, the old dog was
still on the porch, and we figured that she would be gone when we got
back. She followed us, though, walking without a leash, right
beside Chocolate the way Teddy used to. When we got back, we gave her
some food and water on the porch, and she ate and drank. We brought
Chocolate inside for the night, and the old dog settled on the porch.
It was a warm November night, or we would have brought her in. We
decided to leave her outside hoping that she would finally go home.
The next morning, she was still on our porch. She had slept on our
starting to concern us, as we knew that the old dog had a home
somewhere. She was well-groomed and didn’t have the appearance of
a stray. We took Chocolate out on the porch and sat down with the
two of them. Shari started petting the old dog, and then held her
face in her hands and looked into her eyes the way she would do
Teddy. What came next sent shivers up my spine. Shari exclaimed
started crying and hugging the old dog. She had seen Teddy’s soul
in the old dog’s eyes, and I never doubted her. We would bring her
in to sleep with us that night, and keep her. Shortly afterward, we
left the two dogs on the porch and went inside. But the next time we
went out, only Chocolate was there. The old dog had disappeared as
quickly as she came, and we never saw her again. For days after
that, I searched the neighborhood, but never found her. None of the
neighbors had ever seen her, when I described her to them. I am a
hard cynic when it comes to anything supernatural, and I wracked my
brain trying to come up with a logical explanation for the appearance
of this dog. I could only come up with one thing. Teddy had come
back to tell us she was okay, and to give us a chance to say goodbye.
The two things that supported this the strongest were the fact that
Chocolate never barked at this strange dog, and that Shari had seen
Teddy in those eyes. But the most compelling thing about it was that
if she had come back, she had to come back from somewhere. Again, I
could come up with only one answer. She had come back from Heaven.
God had allowed her to visit us in this form, for one last time. As
soon as we realized what it was, then He called her back home for the
another 11 years before passing away at age 12, the same as Teddy.
She was a wonderful, sweet, loving, loyal companion to us for all
those years. She lived to please us, and loved us so much. But she
had especially loved Teddy in the short year and a half they had
together. We had been blessed with two of the best dogs ever. I
have no doubt that when Chocolate entered Heaven, the first one to
greet her was her great friend and protector, Teddy.
was written in 2005. In it I omitted that Shari and I divorced in
1998. The divorce was necessary in that we could no longer live
together, but I never stopped loving her. She had the heart of an
angel, and the fact that every animal she came in contact with
gravitated toward her proves that her soul was worthy of their
judgment guided only by love and kindness. One night in June 2009, I
dreamed about Chocolate for the first time in years. The next
morning, Shari’s mother called to tell me that Shari had passed
away the previous night. She was 56 years old. I have no doubt that
Chocolate appeared in my dream to tell me that Shari had made it to
Heaven. She is now reunited with both Teddy and Chocolate, and not
in any more of the pain that this world dealt her in a much too
excessive dose. This story is dedicated to her sweet memory.
Bandit is a adopted family member now with us for 8 years. Bandit is part Australian shephard, huskey and retriever. He was first found on line when he was about 8 weeks old and I fell in love with him when I first saw his picture. (see his baby pics) He was born in Florida and survived the hurricane that hit about 8 years ago. As an orphan he was shipped to Tn. and then to Cape Cod when he came to live with us. He has grown to be the absolute best of many dogs I have grown up with. He lives with my wife and me and knows when we are on our way home as he gets all excited and his short tail vibrates 100mph. I can be 1 or 2 minutes from home and he starts running around the house looking for a toy to bring to the door to greet us with. It is funny to watch because he may pick up the closest toy to him but just as we hit the driveway he will run to another room to pick up his favorite then back to the front door for greetings. He has become so much more to me than just a pet as he seems to know just what I need after a difficult day. He supports me with playful growls and dancing around and puts up with all my lovies he gets from me. I cannot imagine a day down the road when I am not greeted at the door when I come home or at the side of the bed when I wake in the morning.
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OTIS MY BEST FRIEND
June 19, 1994 is a day I will always remember,
not because it was Fathers Day, but because it was the day I met Otis. I named
him after my favorite singer, with the last name Redding. Turns out he was dumped out on the
street and a guy mowing his lawn rescued him from being run over. My daughter
said the neighbor offered him to her but she could not keep him. My wife and I had not had a dog for over 20
years, but for whatever reason we offered Otis a home. So started my 18 year
association with my best friend. The vet said he looked to be about 6 months
old, and was part Corgi and part Sheltie, be that as it may, he was the best
boy anyone ever met. Otis was a very smart dog, and I know I never taught him anything.
I made a suggestion and he did the right thing. Like the time I picked up a
tennis ball and threw it, he stood there and just looked at me, and did
nothing. I told him your supposed to go get it and bring it back. Then about 2
weeks later, I picked up the ball and threw it, off he went fetched it and
brought it back, and was ready to go again. As a matter of fact over the years
whenever people came over, he would go get that tennis ball and place it at the
visitors feet, and wait for them to throw it. People who could not remember my
name knew Otis, and kids would ask, can Otis come out and play? As the years
went by Otis got to where he could not chase the ball like he once did. I
myself got to where I needed a motorized wheelchair. Otis and I started going
for walks. As he aged the walks got shorter and shorter, until one day they
stopped. Otis last few months were days of sleeping for hours, and finding it
harder and harder to walk. On June 7th 2012, I made the most difficult decision of my life, I took
Otis to our family vet for the last time. I read somewhere that the reason we
humans love dogs so much is because, “they are what we wish we were.”
Thank you Otis, you taught me more than I ever taught you.
I grew up near the Seeing Eye Institute in Morristown, NJ, and as a kid was in awe of the German Shepherds being trained as guide dogs. I thought they were the most beautiful, brilliant animals I’d ever seen and was determined to have one someday. Decades later, I got my wish.
I was by then in my forties, living in a San Francisco apartment, and was unprepared for the demands and chaos a high-energy puppy can create. I remember thinking Lexie was the biggest mistake I’d ever made, and I remember loving her beyond words, but I don’t remember what came in between. Whatever it was, it didn’t last long.
She quickly learned my schedule and waited for me each afternoon by the bay window in the living room. From there she could see me walking up the block as I returned from work. All that was visible of her were those big, erect ears poking above the windowsill. Sometimes those ears were the most welcoming sight of the day. She became my running partner, and her presence enabled me to run when and where I wished. People generally don’t bother you when you are accompanied by a German Shepherd. Yet she was such a good-natured girl that she was welcomed in every apartment in the building. She was a goodwill ambassador for the breed — and by extension, for all dogs.
Because of Lexie, I began volunteering with a German Shepherd rescue group. Because of Lexie, I adopted a sickly Shepherd-mix rescue puppy who came to be named Tonka and who, thirteen years later, is still with me. And after we moved to rural southwestern Virginia, I began fostering rescue dogs, two of whom never left. They found a home here because of Lexie.
Lexie died on April 4, 2011, at the age of 11, a week after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was in pain, so the decision was easy. But losing her wasn’t. Our vet Eric came to the house to end her suffering, and I told Lexie to stay with Eric while I put the other dogs outside. And for once in her life she disobeyed a direct order. As I turned back to he house, I saw that she had followed me. That was the last voluntary action she ever took.
My friend Susan calls that one special dog your “heart dog.” Lexie was my heart dog. Always will be.
“Sir Grayton Noble and true A better friend I never knew” reads the plaque I made when my golden retriever, Grayton, went to Heaven. I always said he was sitting at the feet of God eating treats and being loved on. I never had a doubt that was where he was. Like you and Laura, he was my “pre-marriage, pre-child” dog. Never wore a collar or a leash but stayed by my side 24/7. I sold resort wear and he traveled with me through GA, FLA, WA, OR, and British Columbia going into most of the accounts I worked with during appointments. His favorite place was Dog Beach in Key West FL, but he also LOVED the ski rental shop at Mt. Baker in Washington. They would let him hang out with them while I skied. We even made several “mom-dog” cross-country journeys stopping to hike and explore this “America the Beautiful” that blesses us daily!!
After 7 years of just Grayton and me, I married and had 2 kids. We were living in Spokane WA and on Sept. 10, 2001, Grayton passed. I stayed up all night trying to decide where to bury him and decided on St. Simons Island, where my family was. Now, of course, it was “9/11” and there was no way we were going to put our family on a plane. So, we drove 3000 miles with Grayton frozen and packed on dry ice in a dog casket from Washington state to St. Simons Island GA. My kids were 5 months old and 2 years old and we had a little dog we had rescued named “Rudy”. THAT trip was a challenge but well worth it! It took us 5 full days to get there with all the stops required while travelling with little ones. Gentle, laid back, intuitive, brilliant, and quite frankly just a miracle in fur best describes this dog. I know I learned more from him than he learned from me. Like Laura said on her show today, there really is a bonding time before life gets so busy with marriage and children, and I was blessed to have this time with such a noble creature.
Bailey came to our family when my wife’s sister decided that with the expected arrival of their 3rd son, a big yellow Lab was just a little too much for their family to care for at that time. We had two boys and both my wife and I had grown up with dogs in our families. So, when we were asked if we would give him a home, of course we said “YES”…
Our boys were older than my sister-in-laws boys and the name that they had chosen for their dog was “Rolie” as in “Rolie Polie Olie”. Our sons (and my wife and I) agreed, that just would not work for our teen and pre-teen sons. Not wanting to cause too much confusion for our new 3 year old Lab, we determined that if we were going to change his name, it would be easier for him if it sounded similar to his current name. So after briefly considering “Goalie” as both our sons were Keepers on their soccer teams, we settled on Bailey…
We were blessed to have Bailey in our family, although like most promises as to their level of care and responsibility by kids excited to “get a dog”, let’s just say Bailey and I ended up spending a lot of time together…
When our eldest son was in a very serious car accident while in college, when he arrived home from the hospital, Bailey was always bedside to offer support and show his love for our son.
We had to put Bailey down on June 4th this year. He was telling us it was time to go, his body was being compromised by the growths and the pressure they were putting on his organs, he was wanting to spend a lot of time outside, digging holes under the trees to lay in and wanting to sleep outside at night. We knew it was time to do the difficult by necessary thing for him.
My wife said “I can’t do this; you’ll have to take care of it.”… So I waited for the next week as I knew that both our sons would be home and I knew they wanted to say their good-byes to him and spend some time together.
A few days after the boys left for a planned vacation, I made the difficult call to our vet. We agreed that the best course of action was to have her come to the house. I got to lie on the ground with Bailey under the trees in the backyard, tell him how much we all loved him and rub his head while he went to sleep. Bailey loved walking on Light House Beach in Chatham and my wife and I still feel like someone is missing when we go for a walk together, but Bailey is with us, he is in our memories because he was our Dog of a Lifetime.
Katy.that was her name. She was the adorable 6 week old Bishon. My plans were to get a male dog because they were cheaper, but she had different plans. Katy was all over me, licking, crying, and climbing in my lap. How could I not take her. She Picked Me!! She was an apartment dog so she had to learn potty training quickly and not to bark to much. She was perfect!.. When I turned 50 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I needed to have chemo and radiation. Kate knew there was something wrong, so when she needed to go out and I didn’t feel well, she walked slower and took her time with my slow walk, and if you know anything about a Bishon that’s a hard for them to do. She became deaf, couldn’t see very well, and slept all day, but she was 15 and she was winding down. She loved me and I loved her with all my being. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I thought I would NEVER get another dog. There is no way any dog could replace her. I know now Katy would not want that, so sitting at my feet sleeping in front of the fireplace in my rescue Winnie. I sometimes feel Katy saying Good Job Mom, Winnie needed you. Truth is I needed her. Thank you Katy for your love and devotion..Mom
We raied 6 Seeing Eye Dogs through 4-H while growing up in Chester, NJ… What a great expereince for our family. They were Yellow, Chocolate and Black Labs…
How wonderful of your family! (But also, how hard to part with them when the time comes.) One of my brothers raised two Labs for Guide Dogs for the Blind in Massachusetts. One of the dogs successfully completed training and served for many years as a Guide Dog. The other washed out of the program and happily returned to live out her life with my brother and his family. German Shepherds aren’t used much as guide dogs these days, but when I was growing up they were used exclusively. Thanks so much for your comment! (PS: I know Chester very well, beautiful town!)
I got Shotzy, my Doberman Pincher, as a baby of 8 weeks and he picked me I didn’t pick him. He was with his mother and siblings when I saw him and all the babies followed their mother but he turned around and came straight to me and from then on we were inseparable. Years went by and I realized how smart he was when I taught him commands in two different languages. You could just look at this dog and he could read your mind. He was always a strong dog, even as a puppy we would go walking in the woods and he would bring home a tree log as a toy almost twice his size. Although he was strong and regal looking he was a pussy cat when it came to raising a kitten I brought home that had been abandoned. Shotzy was definately my dog of a lifetime when I lost my 27 year old son. I fell into a serious deep depression and stayed in bed without eating for a week. Shotzy never left my bedside, day or night, but only to leave to eat or go to the bathroom. He always returned to my bedside. He knew what was happening to me and had I not had that dog I would not be here this day. He was my strength to go on with my life and I will never forget him for this. We lost Shotzy in 2005 but his love for me and mine for him will be everlasting. I just hope I will meet up with him in the afterlife…what wonderful stories we would share together.
Knox is an 8 year old English golden retriever and has touched my life in more ways than I can possibly share. He has listened to me when no one else would and has shown his compassion when myself and others have needed it. One of my most memorable occasions came when my stepdad passed away and my mother was so full of grief and loneliness, she went through a period of confusion and could not seem to concentrate, on one day she had gone to the grocery store and upon getting home she realized she had left her purse (again). She called me to see if I would come take her back to the store since she was so upset and could not drive. I picked her up and we rode to the store to see if her purse was still there low and behold it was in the buggy out in the parking lot and had been un touched. Of course my best companion was in his favorite spot on the floor in backseat area of my truck (yes I did buy a truck with Knox in mind and made sure the seats would fold out of his way). Upon getting the purse and on the way back to my mothers she had a melt down of emotions and began crying Knox noticed this and sat up between the two front seats and place his head on my mothers shoulder. She asked me if I thought he could tell she was upset and I said absolutely he does. She calmed down almost immediately. It has been 5 years since this and still my mother thinks of that day and feels as if an Angel had touched her and said everything will be ok. For me Knox is my morning coffee partner and my midnight snack accomplice. Love that boy with all my heart! God bless. Loren
Our dog, Jack, is an amazing and protective friend . . .truly a dog of a lifetime. We living in a rural area and are prone to having numerous water moccasins or cotton mouths, rattle snakes, and a variety of other not people-friendly critters in our yard. Some of the snakes are particularly aggressive and having small children to care for, we have to be cautious whenever we are outside. We have several dogs and they are great at killing the snakes when they get onto our property. They will circle a snake and pull it apart in about 5 seconds start to finish. One evening this summer, as I was pulling into our driveway returning from work, I noticed all four of our dogs gathered around what turned out to be a large water moccasin – about three inches in diameter. The snake was yet alive so I told the children to stay in the car while I retrieved a garden shovel to get rid of the snake. I stopped the car about 20 feet from the snake. The dogs came to the car to greet us, however, as soon as I stepped out of the car, Jack went right back to the snake and proceeded to shake it violently. Poor Jack was bitten by the snake in the process. He killed the snake before I could get to him. Thankfully Jack survived the bite with help from meds from the vet and prayers from his family. This is the second time he has been bitten by a snake. His heroic act was a demonstration of how much he loved us by putting himself in harm’s way to protect us – well, me in particular. What an amazing and loving dog! Jack is a black lab and golden retriever mix and is 14 years old. We have had him and his sister, Jill, since they were pups. We have a white schnauzer, Charlie (4 years old), and we had a yellow lab/German Shepherd mix, Sandy, who was 15 when she passed away this year. We got a black lab/German Shepherd pup about 2 months ago and he is “in training” to be another great snake dog, (although he prefers chewing on our shoes so far)! This picture of Jack is with my son who was one year old at the time of this photo.
After I lost our three year old mix, I saw an add in the paper for German Shepherd puppies.
I grew up with these dogs and enjoyed them, but this was my first as a “grown up.” There were only two females left and I took the one that came to me. We named her Bobbie Rae because she was a big girl and her bark was deep and demanding. As she grew I wondered when she was start acting like a Shepherd, because Bobbie was a gentle giant.
I had begun to train her at 6 months speaking to her with German commands. She picked up quickly. I started bringing her on my new paper route when she was three and she learned the early morning route without using her lease. She walked with me and I always knew I was safe.
Twice while on my paper route she took on the mean St. Bernard who had a bad habit of busting out of the front door. One day as I walk down that street to collect from my route, I heard the St. Bernard barking and I knew that he knew we were coming. I grabbed her lease just in case then all of a sudden I saw the St. Bernard bust through the door running towards us. I dropped the lease and they both went at it. Bobbie held her ground even though the other dog was almost twice the size of her, Bobbie was 98lbs. The St. Bernard backed down after a few moments and went home. I could tell Bobbie was a bit shaken up but she did what she knew to do, she protected me.
Bobbie would pace our big yard during the night and I could always tell her “alert” bark or if someone was just going down the street. If it was an alert bark, I’d look out the window at night and if I didn’t see anything, I’d turn on the light and she’d look over to the house and quiet down because she knew I was up and looking. Bobbie did so many things from protecting our children to letting the grandchildren hang all over her this short letter doesn’t cover her devotion and loyalty.
Our girl was the kind of dog who was always watching and listening. I could whisper to her a command and she would obey. At almost 13 years old, on one crisp, sunny October day I knew I’d never throw the ball again to her. That ball was her reward and passion. On that crisp, bright October day, Bobbies back legs gave out. I knew by the look in her eyes this was going to be out last day together. I always said to myself, if Bobbie ever had trouble with her legs, as shepherds do, I could not allow her to go through pain. I called the vet and asked if I could bring her in for the last time. They graciously made the appointment for that hour. As I tried to get Bobbie up, she was then 87 lbs and had no back leg strength, I began to sweat and lift and realized I couldn’t do this and my husband was at work. As I prayed to the LORD for help, I then whispered as I did many times before, that now she needed to help mommy and get up. To my relief and amazement I saw this dog gather all the strength she had in her front quarters and pull her body up and we made it out of the kitchen and down two steps and into the car that I pulled close to the house. As we headed to the car the thought came to me she doesn’t like the car and I didn’t know if she would get into it. Bobbie with dignity pulled herself into the car and sat with her head up and rode with the window down and for the first time seemed to enjoy the ride. As I road to the vet tears streaming down my face realizing this dog has been “simper Fi,” always faithful. I could not have been more blessed with her in our life.
In that little room we said our good byes and I left sobbing leaning on my car after she was gone. I notice the old couple still sitting in the car before we put Bobbie on the stretcher. The woman got out of her car and came over and gave me a much needed hug.
As I write this, I’m crying. I really don’t think I’ll ever get over my Bobbie Rae.
Kimberly ( I’m sorry, I have a newer computer and can’t find any pictures of Bobbie except on Snapfish and I couldn’t pull it off )
My Dog of a lifetime is Velvet! I named her before we found her. I would call her Velvet, Velvet before we had her. One day we were driving and saw a man selling Weimeraner pups on the side of the road. We stopped and I picked her out. She has been such a good buddy! She is so cuddlable and lovable! She follows me everywhere,. When I sit in the recliner, she squeezes in with me and puts her head on my leg. I have taught her some hand signs which she understands and also she understands quite a few English words, like treat, lets go, walk, give kisses, move over, and more. She is very smart. I LOVE this girl and am so happy we found her or she found us!
Alex was our dog of a lifetime. We saved her from the end of a chain when she was 11 years old. We loved each other for the next 5 glorious years. She was a sweet, polite, energetic Lab. She was our constant companion, and loved her new life and family with total abandon. Alex inspired us to adopt senior Labs being surrendered by their owners. We are currently loving our fifth senior, a 14 year old named Mow. They have all been incredible dogs, but Alex was our inspiration of a lifetime.
North Shore animal shelter, 2000, just looking of course.. Walking by all the cages, all but one dog was going nuts. He was a black puppy, an Irish Wolf Hound. Not knowing much other than they get large and he came with a name. He was Sherlock which he answered to already. He became ours that day. Sherlock was an exceptionally smart animal. He figured things out fast and had picked up the meaning of what seemed like every conversation. Sherlock suffered from severe separation anxiety and due to his intelligence and loyalty he managed to escape from crate, kennel and window every time, tracking us down almost always. He was gentle and athletic. Able to clear 5 foot fences with grace. Everyone who knew him marveled at his speed and smarts. Sherlock was once lost at sea, my family fearing the worst, staying in the dark on the beach waiting. Hours later Sherlock came bounding miles down the beach wet and exhausted from his ordeal. He was truly amazing. Sherlock even brought me home a bag of fresh bagels once(true story) don’t know who he scared or entertained to get them.
Sherlock was a blessing and we were lucky to have him protect us, love us and entertain us for 13 years. Sherlock was with no doubt the dog of a lifetime.
My best friend and soul mate is a little dog named Mr. Murphy, who is a 17 year old Bichon. As a veteran I have traveled over the years, and never had the opportunity to share my life with someone special. His presence has help me get through the trying times and periods of loneliness. But most of all the ability to share love and give love in return. Mr. murphy has given me more then I could ever ask for with his love and devotion. As I see him grow older I see the changes in him and yet when I look into his eyes, I see the glow and spirit of a puppy. At the end of everyday I ask the lord to keep him with me just one more day and that he does not suffer any pain.
Inclosing I know that my little friend has made me a better person and that he will be in my heart till the day I die. I was so blessed to have him as my soul mate.
Shana Mae is my dog of a lifetime. She was rescued from the
humane society on day 8 of her stay there, her last day. She would have been
put down the next morning. She was 8 weeks old in late October when she was
dropped off there which made her birthday the same as mine. I didn’t know
a puppy was being brought into our home until I saw her and I wasn’t too
pleased at first but that didn’t last long. She was the sweetest little thing
and it didn’t take long to realize that she was a chick magnet. She traveled
everywhere with me by car and truck and it’s such a wonderful thing to travel
with your dog instead of her being left at home with you missing her and wondering
how she’s doing while you are gone. She even traveled with me by commercial
airplane 51 times from the midwest to S. California. She was so tuned-in to the
flying, quiet as a mouse, that after the first trip out, we thought we
could just walk onto the plane with her in her fit-under-the-front-seat bag and
nobody would know she was there. We got away with it 45 of the 50 times we
tried it and the other five times we just paid the fee and proceeded. Again,
what a treat to have your best friend flying around the country with you. She
was quite the attraction with other travelers and dog lovers in the airports we
flew in and out of and on one occasion helped a mother relax her cranky toddler
who wasn’t having a good fly day. All Shana had to do was just stand there and
the child had an instant smile. Many of our house cats loved Shana also,
cuddling up to her on many occasions when she would allow it. She was in my
life almost 17 years and I miss her so much but she has visited me a few times
in dreams and although these visits are short, they are so sweet. What a joy to
have spent that time with such a loving being.
From the beginning Denver and I had a special bond. I owned his mother and had her bred with another AKC Rottweiler. In a litter of 8, Denver was the runt and not breathing when born. I resuscitated him, a job his mother wasn’t doing. I decided to keep this little guy who had such a fragile start. That set up the beginning of an almost 9 year journey in friendship, loyalty and love. Not long after Denver outgrew puppy-hood I went through a very difficult time in my life. Throughout all of it he became my constant companion; when I wasn’t at work he was with me. We visited friends together, we traveled together, and he slept by my bed at night.
His beauty, temperament, and intelligence made impressions on everyone he met. There are so many stories. He has been the picture representing a business in its marketing ad. He was obedient to a fault. I once put a dog treat on a chair, told him not to eat it, and went out. When I returned sometime later he had not moved. His eyes were transfixed on the chair, with a puddle of drool below, but the treat was still there. On another occasion, I had gone shopping and had a back seat full of groceries. I had a brief meeting to attend before heading home. I left Denver in the front seat of the truck, where he always sat when we traveled. The short meeting turned into 3 hours. When I returned, Denver was still in the front seat and the groceries were untouched. It was he who first caught my future wife’s eye. When I married, Denver accepted my new wife and children with the same unquestioning loyalty he gave me.
He passed away on St. Patrick’s Day about 10 years ago, his heart failed him. Even now as I write this, the memory brings tears to my eyes. We don’t have a regular vet in the community, we have a satellite office on certain days. The home office is a 2 hour drive away. There was no vet in town on the day Denver died, we had to make the trip to the office. On that interminably long drive to the vet, all he wanted was to have his head on my wife’s lap with her hand gently stroking it. If she stopped, he would lift his head and gently nudge her hand with his nose, indicating that she should continue. We didn’t make it in time for the vet to see him. I’ve had a good number of dogs throughout my life. Many were great, wonderful companions; none compare to Denver. He was the dog of a lifetime.
From the beginning Denver and I had a special bond. I owned his mother and had her bred with another AKC Rottweiler. In a litter of 8, Denver was the runt and not breathing when born. I resuscitated him, a job his mother wasn’t doing. I decided to keep this little guy who had such a fragile start. That set up the beginning of an almost 9 year journey in friendship, loyalty and love. Not long after Denver outgrew puppy-hood, I went through a very difficult time in my life. Throughout all of it Denver became my constant companion; when I wasn’t at work he was with me. We visited friends together, we traveled together, and he slept by my bed at night.
He passed away on St. Patrick’s Day about 10 years ago, his heart failed him. Even now as I write this it the memory brings tears to my eyes. We don’t have a regular vet in the community, we have a satellite office on certain days. The home office is a 2 hour drive away. There was no vet in town on the day Denver died, we had to make the trip to the office. On that interminably long drive to the vet, all he wanted was to have his head on my wife’s lap with her hand gently stroking it. If she stopped, he would lift his head and gently nudge her hand with his nose, indicating that she should continue. We didn’t make it in time for the vet to see him. I’ve had a good number of dogs throughout my life. Many were great, wonderful companions; none compare to Denver. He was the dog of a lifetime.
On the cusp of the anniversary of the birth and death of our twins and only children, we were sitting in traffic in Atlanta. I was the passenger and decided to look up dachshund rescues in the area. I happened upon a rescue that had a dog named Caramel Sunday. She was a 12 year old senior girl who had been dumped by her family because she was having trouble maneuvering her back legs. The rescue had her evaluated only to find out that she had neurological problems, bladder stones, and she was terminal. She had breast cancer. The type of cancer was not conducive for treatment due to her age and progression of cancer. But they realized she had a lot of life left in her and it wasn’t her time to go. They posted her picture just in case that special person would take her in and give her all the love and care she so richly deserved. Her life expectancy was 6 months to a year.
Tears were streaming down my face as I read this. Then, I heard a small girl’s voice say, “Mommy, she needs you. Go get her”. My husband saw I was crying and he asked what I was looking at and I read him the story on Caramel Sunday. He said we already had two dogs and that this dog was going to die. He felt I did not need anymore heartache. That statement strengthened my resolve.
As soon as I got home, I emailed the rescue and asked a lot of questions. I applied to adopt Caramel Sunday on the anniversary of the twins’ memorial service and was approved. On March 12, 2013, Caramel Sunday became our little girl. Every day, I focused the majority of my energy to make every day count for her. She was spoiled rotten! She would go into stores with me, she would run errands with me, and slept beside me every night. She got a hamburger or a pup cup if I stopped at a drive thru. In August, I started a Facebook page chronicling the journey of a hospice dog. I was educating and promoting adoption of senior and special needs dogs. Within a month, we had 219 devoted followers. At that same time, we found out about rescue dog transports and began doing those on the weekends, with Caramel in tow. She really liked meeting new dogs and going to new places.
On September 14, 2013, we transported a frightened male dachshund. We brought him a few treats and Caramel snuggled with him. When we dropped him off to the next leg of his transport, Caramel smiled the whole ride home. Little did we know it was her last transport and our last day with her. It was like she knew she did something good on her last full day on earth. On September 15, 2013, at 6:10 a.m., she died in our arms. We cried as we told her how much we loved her and to follow the light. I am crying now recalling it. She touched not only our lives, but many on Facebook.
In her memory, we have fostered one dog, temporarily fostered a dog, overnighted two dogs, and have done approximately 75 rescue transports to promote her legacy. Even when on vacation or traveling for work, we sign up for transports. We adopted two senior female dogs after she passed away, one is a one toothed wonder. We have had several of the followers on Facebook share with us that Caramel Sunday’s story has inspired them to transport dogs and even adopt dogs in need.
Caramel Sunday is our dog of a lifetime. She changed our lives for the better. Her legacy has changed people’s perception of senior, special needs, and hospice care animals. She has inspired us to do all we can to help dogs in need.
I got Lightning from a friend of mine 6 years ago. I knew he was “trouble” the moment we where sitting in a baby pool with 8 puppies falling all over the place and this one little white “cottonball” came and sat down next to me. Well that “ball” is now a full grown yellow Lab that weighs 80 lbs!, even thou he thinks he’s still a puppy. I gave himas a gift to my son (and our family) when my son was 7 and Lightning was only 12 weeks old. He has blessed our home with love (and lots of shedded fur…we are now on our 3rd vacuum cleaner) only a dog can give. He love each of us in a special way. He protects and loves my son as if he was a dad and my son was his pup. My wife is the Alpha and he respects her deeply but tries to get away with some things like eating a plate of brownies when no one is looking. Oh yeah, he ate the styroform plate too!!! After a few nervous days, it pasted. Ane me…we just have this understanding that I’m the dad and he should help me with everything around the house. It’s cute but not fun when you trip over a big o’ Lab who just looks at you saying “what?”. Just wanted to share this with you all. Take care. God Bless and Merry Christmas….SSG C McPherson, US Army, NJ
Petey Boy came to us from a rescue group in Nebraska where we live. He had lived in a Puppy Mill for 9 years in a cage. He was in such bad shape when he came to the rescue that he had all of his teeth pulled. I saw him on their website and immediately knew I wanted to adopt him. For the first 3 months he hid in a corner if our house and didn’t want us to pick him up or pet him. He would shake constantly from fear of everything. I felt so bad for him and longed for him to show some kind if happiness from being in my home. One day I just sat down on the floor and picked him up and held him to my chest while I cried and talked to him telling him I loved him and that he was safe. After that moment he was a different dog. He begged for food and wanted attention from us and even slept in bed with is. He finally acts like a dog ! We have had him for almost two years now and he is a cherished member of our family. Because of Petey Boy, I have a renewed passion to advocate against puppy mills and encourage everyone to adopt. I think you can tell from the pic he is very happy!
George came into our lives 9 1/2 years ago. We went to a rescue adoption event. He captured by teenage sins heart immediately and the choice was made. George let it be known from the start that he was a member of the family. When out daughter who was 20 went to meet him he wanted to go home with her. But George was still in the middle of his heart worm treatment. When he did come home he let it be known that he was an equal and would not stand for separation. His greatest pleasure was to be with us and teaching us about pure love. He would like to climb up and sit on one of us or lie down next to you. He was pure love. He seldom barked, he had no need. He communicated with his actions and eyes. Often going a year between barks. As his legs failed him, he occasionally would fall and I would help him up. He would look at me saying ” what happened”? Then he would smile and continue walking. While I was in Florida visiting out son George went downhill I flew home early to comfort him, give him food and water and sleep with him on the floor. I tried in vain to show him a fraction of the love which he gave our family George left us the day before Thanksgiving. We as a family will never forget you George. We love you
I first “met” Bella on December 18, 2007. Our older dog Ace had passed away a couple months earlier, and we decided it was time to bring a third dog into our house. My wife and I went to the local Humane Society after seeing a picture of an adorable white dog online. The shelter didn’t know what kind of dog she was, other than maybe part Lab. They said she had been picked up as a stray.
We were ushered into a small room, and the dog was brought in. She immediately scurried under a table and into a corner. She was scared to death. Eventually, my wife was able to coax her out with a treat (the first hint of how food-centric she is). Me? Not so much. The dog, Bianca, would not come near me. We took her outside to meet our other dogs. She was scared of them, too, but not hostile in the slightest.
But there was just something about this adorable package of skin and bones. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what. We decided to bring her home, and that’s where she told me what she really thought of me. She would not come into the house from the garage, but I was finally able to corral her and carry her in. But on the way up the stairs, she, um, eliminated her bowels all over me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
She immediately settled in with the other two older dogs. She was so beautiful that we renamed her Bella. Following “doggie protocol,” and knowing many dogs are scared of men, I figured the best way to win her heart was through her stomach. I fed her and gave her treats. I walked her and gave her treats along the way. Suddenly, a light bulb came on for her and she realized she could trust me. I can only hope I have never betrayed that trust.
After we had her awhile, she began to fill out. My wife did some research, and discovered that she was actually a purebred Lab, but of the rare Dudley variety. She has the coloring of a Chocolate, but the coat of a Yellow. Little did it matter though. She was just our Bella, and we got along famously, even through a move.
Then, on a fateful Valentine’s Day Eve in 2009, our world was shattered. She was throwing up, so we took her to the emergency vet. They figured she had an intestinal blockage and would do surgery overnight. We left her there and drove home. As we neared our house, my wife got a call from the vet. They told her it wasn’t a blockage, but that she had acute renal failure that caused her bowel to constrict. We were stunned. How could it be? She had just been running and jumping a couple days prior.. Quick research told us the prognosis was not good. But we were not going to give up on our Bella Bug.
We knew she was scared to death in the hospital, and that could only hinder the miracle we were hoping for. She would never make it on her own. We begged them to let us stay there with her in a kennel day and night. The hospital finally agreed, so we lay there with her day and night. She got care and more love than we could ever have asked from an amazing vet tech named Heidi who would occasionally relieve us, Her doctor held out some hope that she would recover. I prayed and prayed for that miracle. We were crushed one morning when the overnight doctor told us there is basically no hope in cases like this. But we were not going to give up.
Eventually, her numbers stabilized and started improving, giving us some hope. We loved on her and loved on her some more. Her numbers slowly got better, but still not great. We convinced the doctor that the best thing to do was to relieve her stress and let us take her home. I suppose that because my wife had shown such great knowledge of the situation and we had both shown how dedicated we were to getting her better, he agreed. Bella got to go home after five days in the ICU.
It was rocky at first. She would have nothing to do with a feeding tube. One of her medications gave her mini seizures. But she got better. And better. And better. The miracle had happened. She was back to being Bella Bug and gulping down food. Her chub was coming back. it spoke to her courage and devotion to us and our commitment to her. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Three and a half wonderful years later, the unthinkable happened. She started throwing up again. We immediately took her to a different emergency vet (the first one had since closed). Sure, enough, she was in renal failure again. We couldn’t possibly expect second miracle, could we? No, but we were going to do everything we could to make one happen. We again stayed with her night and day. This vet even gave us a waiting room where we could be with her. My wife took the night shift and I took the days. Same routine as before. And miraculously, the same results. Our devoted Dudley Lab pulled through again.
Bella is still with us today. She is on a special diet and we give her about 25 pills and supplements a day. She gets acupuncture. She has her blood checked regularly. She is the most special and devoted dog in the world. She barks for her food. She begs constantly for treats. She sleeps in our bed and on my wife’s lap (yes, a lap Lab). She makes us laugh. She makes us cry. She is THE Dog of a Lifetime. And it just couldn’t be more appropriate than to be writing this on the seventh anniversary of the day we adopted her.
In 1998 I was diagnosed with throat cancer at the age of 41. It was a scary time during the 6 weeks radiation treatment and not really sure what the final outcome would be. To take my mind of the whole ordeal, in late November of that year, my wife surprised me with an adorable puppy miniature Schnauzer. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having a dog at the time and told my wife thanks but please get rid of the dog. She begged me for a few days to keep him and thankfully, I relented. I still feel guilty today 16 years later that initially I didn’t want my boy. It wasn’t long before Bogie and I developed a special relationship. Anyone who has ever had a mini Schnauzer knows how incredibly intelligent these dogs are. The love and loyalty Bogie gave me for 15 years I will never, ever forget. I could give a 1000 examples but people who know the love of dog already know.
In January of 2011, Bogie was diagnosed with a mass in his liver half the size of his liver. The surgeon called me while he still had Bogie down that he can just sew Bogie back up and enjoy my last 6 months with him or he can remove the mass with no guarantees. That was no choice I told the vet, remove the mass. Complications ensued, bleeding, bile leakage etc. and it took 3 more major surgeries to make Bogie right again. It took $20,000.00 dollars to save my boys life. People told me I can’t spend that kind of money on a dog. My wife told me it’s his time to go. No it wasn’t. I would not, and could not kill my boy over money. Bogie was my boy and had I listened to people, the guilt of putting money over life would have been difficult. That’s not me anyway and there was never a second of indecisiveness. Bogie fully recovered.
In October 2013, I was on a business trip in LA when my wife called me at my hotel and said it looked like Bogie had a stroke. He was a little over 15 at the time. His head and eyes were shaking and wouldn’t stop. He also had lump growth on his back that over the last year of his life and grown to the size of a baseball. It was Bogies time. On October 30, 2013, I drove back home from LA, a 7 hour drive to spend my last two hours with my boy. I got home at 1:30pm and the vet was scheduled to come to my home at 3:30 pm to mercifully end Bogies life in his home and in his bed that he had since he was a puppy. Bogie was still aware of my presence. I was cradling him telling him how much I loved him. I stepped away for a second and he lifted his shaking head looking at me like where are you going, Daddy. A moment in time I will never forget. Bogie is gone but he’s still with me on the night stand next to me in his cedar box, his collar around the bed post along with his favorite blanket. My boy will always be with me.
Sorry Laura I did not post this story with my Facebook logon. Bailey was our dog.
Where do I start? I think where I first saw him guarding his human mom for all he was worth. He had no idea why his “mom” was crying so; nor why she handed him to me. Her family was breaking up and she could no longer keep a big dog in her new apartment. His name was Bingo and he had been mistreated by the husband. His hips were damaged and he never sat. Either he was down all the way or he was standing. When we took him home he curled up in the very back of the van and looked so terribly sad. I crawled in the back with him and we got to know each other. Having been abused, the best thing we could do for him was to change his name. He needed a name which wasn’t associated with the bad memories and we had the perfect one. His name was now Sunshine, Sunny for short. He was love on four feet and he wormed all four of them straight into my heart. After the third time I told him to “come here” in a stern voice and he turned into a quivering, growling mass, I realized what was wrong. The former owner (husband) had used that tone with him and when Sunny got to the husband, Sunny would be punished in some manner. On that third time I said “come here” and realized it was a trigger, I dropped to my knees, put my arms around his neck and explained that he would NEVER be punished again. He understood! I never used the stern “come here” again and he never turned into the quivering mass. He became my friend, my guardian, my heart dog.
Sunny’s been gone now for about 10 years but just remembering him brings me to tears. I lost another Boxer this week. I loved her dearly but Sunny was my heart dog. Run free my beautiful boy.
It’s all about the eyes…I had been praying and looking for a dog for a couple of months when I met the dog of a lifetime. It needed to be a very special dog, because I care for special people in my home: dual diagnosis developmentally disabled, which for the most part means the mental health issues are more problematic than the cognitive delay. The dog needed special wisdom. I was at the humane society and saw a new dog, called Sissy. 🙁 She was billed as a 4 year old chocolate lab, already a bit gray in the muzzle. Older, perhaps? It was during the county fair and there were horses just on the other side of the fence from the exercise area. She calmly greeted them, and when I took her off the leash, she sat right beside me and looked me straight in the eyes, as if to say, “Where have you been all my life?” I was sure she was looking into my soul. She had been kenneled in a backyard all her life, had no muscle tone, and, I was to learn, had never been in the water. A guy I cared for at the time couldn’t wrap his tongue around an “s” at all, and we tried out a few names before settling on “Cocoa”, which she immediately answered to. The second weekend she lived with us I took her to meet my daughter in Vail, where she was introduced to hiking and found out she had been born to swim! She became my constant companion, and completely changed the atmosphere in our home with her calm and accepting demeanor. She reformed anti-social personalities, let me know when someone was upset and needed extra attention, and saved me several times by alerting me to the activities of a very secretive and competent fire-starter! Cocoa could communicate more with her eyes than most folks can with words, and she taught me so much about life, unconditional love, and faithfulness that there isn’t room here to tell it all. She deserves a book, like Ben! We called her our Enduro-Dog because she could go and go and go…and of course I wanted her to go on forever. In a perfect world, dogs would live as long as their people, right? I know that 16 is a long run for a lab, but it was not long enough and I miss her so much…I tried to get pictures to load from my phone and couldn’t make it work but will try again tomorrow. In the meantime, just couldn’t let the story of Cocoa, the dog of a lifetime, go untold. Thanks fir letting me share!
My girl Houdini is 12, shows signs of slowing down, but it was a magical March 4, 2002 when she was born to my chocolate Lab Dakota & her puppy sweetheart Bruno the black Lab. We got 4 chocolate, 3 black, & 1 yellow Lab, Houdini, who got her name by escaping the whelping box twice the day she was born. She has been by my side through good & bad for all these years. Her love & companionship are priceless. She is my furry soulmate & we have grown old together. I had a serious illness & I think I would’ve given up without her there. I couldn’t walk for 2 years without a walker or cane. Houdini walks me about 5 to 6 times a day. One day she will leave me when her life is done, but she will live on in my heart & mind forever…..
Our English Springer Spaniel, Hannah, is the dog of a lifetime for our family. She is exactly what you would expect, sweet, gentle, loves everyone, smart, joyful and devoted. She has grown up sleeping under my desk as I work from home and follows me from room to room. I joke I should have named her Shadow. However, my focus here is the relationship she had with my Dad who lived with us. Three years ago my Dad, at 84, became extremely ill with endocarditis, a bacterial infection in the heart. As a result of the trauma of the illness he developed severe dementia. One evening my husband was out with his poker boys, Dad had gone to bed, and I was watching TV in my bedroom which was across the hall from my Dad’s. Hannah heard something and jumped down from the bed to check it out. She’s very nosy. She came running back into my room, jumps on the bed and gets right in my face, anxious like. I asked her playfully ‘what’s up, is dad home’ (my husband). She jumped back down and raced out to the living room and back again. I hadn’t heard my husband come in, so I got up to see. Hannah’s turning in circles wanting to go out, so I opened the door and she bolted out ahead of me. I followed and…there was my Dad, at the edge of the yard near a drop off and had fallen. He couldn’t get up because of his weakened condition and was scared and confused. He was trying to go ‘home’. I don’t know how I missed home getting up and going out, but had it not been for Hannah, he could have seriously hurt himself. There were other times, before he went home to his family he was searching for, where Hannah alerted me to him. I have no words to express how endearing she is to me and our family!
This is late but I thought I would share anyway. My dog, Riker passed away in 2008. I wrote this after.
I’m sure that Riker believed that we, his family, were his humans and not that he was our dog.
My name is Riker and this is why I was
A Man’s Best Friend for over 11 years.
No one could separate us even if we were miles apart.
Slow walks or fast runs…Can I chase a squirrel?
Believe me, I can read your mind.
Ever happy to lick your face.
Seeing you walk through the door always makes me happy.
Trust that you would always do the best for me.
Fiercely faithful and loyal to those I love.
Riding in the car I could put my head on your arm as you
I know exactly how to make you laugh and smile.
Every night my snoring would soothe you to sleep.
No need to ever question my unconditional love.
Don’t be sad for me.
I’m not suffering anymore…we’ll be together again someday.
Jack Russell Terrier
December 21, 1996 – April 21, 2008
Rest in Peace my friend…
Your best friend forever,
May 8, 2008
Dottie. 9/30/95-3/13/04. Dottie was rescued from a recently closed-down puppy mill in Malad, Idaho. We named her Dot because the first time she went out to the back yard to poop it was snowing hard. She was nothing but a tiny black dot in all of that whiteness. She learned commands and signals faster than any dog before or since. When spring came Dottie discovered the “tennis ball” and that became her obsession. Any chance she got to chase and return, she was on it. Miraculous leaping catches and then the dash back, the stop on a dime followed by the gentle nudge of the ball with her nose, right back to my foot. Dottie loved to sleep curled up under my arm. She also knew when that when marital relations were pending to stay off of the bed and would lie on the floor until told she could come up. In 2000, while chasing her ball she stepped in a hole and was jolted by the impact. By midnight her back legs were paralyzed. We took her to the emergency clinic and they determined that she had blown out some discs. The only hope was to take her to Texas A&M in College Station. Money was no object, not for this dog. The instructor and vet students operated for six hours. When I saw her she had staples from the base of her tail to the back of her neck. We were told that she most likely would never walk again but would be in no pain. So we took her home and began to make provisions for life with a handicapped dog. That need was short-lived. The brilliant doctors had worked some magic and within eight weeks she was going after that ball again. We had her for nearly four years after that. Coming from a puppy mill she was not blessed with good genetics and was never completely healthy. She succumbed to a blood disorder at the age of eight. She was the best friend I’ve ever had and I will never forget her.
Honey was my first dog. She came into my life unexpectedly but when I needed her most. I was mowing my mothers yard on October 4, 2003 and the sweetest pup came running through her back yard. I stopped and thought I needed her. So the chase began and when my Mom threw her a peice of bread we had her. She came running to me. She was the best thing to happen to me. We did everything together. We went through obedience classes together, we dressed up for Halloween, we enjoyed each other. She was almost like a human and knew what I needed. I will never forget the time we had together and thank her for being such a wonderful dog. I lost her December 3, 2014 with mass cell carcinoma grade 4. I will never forget what she taught me in the 11 1/2 years we spent together, and thank her for the unconditional love she showed me. She was definately the one dog that touched my heart in a way no other could. She was my dog of a lifetime and I will be forever grateful for having her in my life for the time I did.
1994 – 2009
We adopted Bailey from the Golden Valley Humane Society in June 1996. He was already 2 years old and full of energy. Divine intervention brought us together. Bailey had been abandoned, then adopted and re-abandoned 2 more times in the course of one week. We truly believe that God orchestrated these events. Bailey came into our lives when we realized that children would not be a part of our future together. Bailey had been kept in an outside kennel and needed a great deal of training and socialization. We quickly found that the best method for helping Bailey (and ourselves) was to find ways to expend his high level of energy; hiking, roller blading, skijoring and throwing the chuck-it were the methods we used, and Bailey flourished. My husband and I trained him using positive reinforcement and he became the most loving, well behaved gentleman ever. Bailey was in his prime at 8 yrs. old. We had just come back from a beautiful walk in the park when Bailey collapsed unexpectedly. My husband came running into the house and said that we had to get Bailey to the emergency room. He almost died on the way there. I held his lovely head in my hands and screamed at him to stay with me when his eyes would close. At the vet, he was wheeled away on a gurney. After waiting what seemed like an eternity, the doctor came out looking very grave and said that Bailey had a tumor on his spleen the size of a grapefruit. The tumor on his spleen had burst and was now draining toxins into the rest of his body. It was touch and go for Bailey as
days went by at the emergency vet. We would visit the clinic, sitting with him and telling him how much we loved him with
his I.V’s hooked up to his leg. After 3 days and many prayers, we decided to go forward with a “speenectomy,” which would remove the remaining tumor and spleen. Our remarkable beloved dog went on to live another 7 years with us. Like Ben, people would stop us to ask us what kind of dog he was and where we found him. While it is true that we “rescued” Bailey, it is also true that Bailey
rescued us. Bailey completed our lives in an unimaginable way. He was always there by our side to comfort, play, encourage, and challenge us to be better people. Bailey was a once-in-a-lifetime “grand” dog and we were the privileged people who had the opportunity to be with him to share this adventure we call life.
Toby was our family’s dog from 1996 to 2012. He was a West Highland White Terrier. He had the heart of a big dog. He was brave and kind and loving and loyal and great fun. He gave us all he had to give. When he died it was if we had lost a member of our family. If you’ve never belonged to a dog before, you won’t understand, but we were all his. He grew up with our four children. The hole he left in our hearts will never be filled in….there is never a replacement for those we have loved and lost. It is a rare occasion for our family to be together and not have a Toby story come up. We have had other dogs but none were quite as special as Toby. I just ordered your book after hearing the interview with Jan Markel, can’t wait to read it. Thank you for sharing with such a tender heart….not only for Jesus but for Ben as well.