I cannot remember a time in my life that I did not belong to a dog. For some that may sound funny, but in my case, it is the truth. If you are a dog lover, like I am, then you know it is true. Oh yes, it is a fact that I supply the basic needs of my furry friend, not to mention the old basket of toys that sit in the corner, each toy costing more then it should, for his pleasure. However, it is known by any true lover of dogs, not to mention the dog himself, that like all other dog-lovers, he in fact, owns me!
It seems that love is not dependent on size, breed, or color. In fact, you may have a dog that would win first place in the ugliest dog contest,hands down. Be that
as it may, that one tooth that sticks out the side of his mouth or the nose that is smashed into his face in a odd sort of way, endears him to you and these things make him beautiful in your eyes. As my Grandfather used to say,"his ugly makes him cute!".
I have always been a sucker for dogs. This love was deeply instilled in me by my Grandfather, who raised me. I can still recall the face and name of each beloved pet. It mattered not what they looked like, in fact most of our dogs were strays. My Grandfather had the notion that "mutts", were the best, and he loved his many "mutts", that crossed his threshold. There was always a warm blanket and a dish of food awaiting the new arrival. He couldn't say no to a hungry stray. We had a
menagerie of them as I tromped through my years of adolescence and beyond. Each mutt varied in size and never looked the same in the least. Though my Grandfather has not walked this planet for many years, when I think about him, it is always with a "mutt" by his side.
Love did not come easily for me as a child. I had been abandoned by my parents when I was two years of age. Strange, but at two years of age, I vividly remember standing by the glass paned front door, you remember the kind don't you? The kind with six panes of glass, almost to the floor, and I would stand for hours awaiting my Mother's return. It never happened. My wise Grandfather saw, felt, and
understood my loss. It was soon thereafter that I was owned by a small white fluff of fur named Blondie. The name was deceiving, she wasn't blond, she was one little ball of snow white fluff and was just the size for me to cling to. where she came from it mattered not, but I know my Grandfather arranged the stray to appear at our door. Blondie taught me two lessons that stay with me to this day. The first, was that her love lasted and was consistent. We were inseparable. She had the pinkest tongue, my favorite color, bubble gum pink, and her kisses were never wasted on me.
I savored each miss and was known to give them back very freely. She , or course did not take the place of my Mother, but at least I had a friend to watch with me,
and slowly the watching periods disappeared. Secondly, she taught me to share. My first experience in sharing was at Easter time. She loved the sugar coated candy easter eggs, the kind that you can hardly find today. You know the kind, hard on the outside in colors not unlike my coloring crayons, with marshmallow spun sugar in the center. Pure sugar! She would gingerly take each piece that I gave her and drag her morsel to the end of the bed, leaving traces of bright, sticky, delectable goo on my Grandmothers sheets that had been "blued" . I could never understand why they called it "bluing" and why they would want to put it in the laundry to make sheets white. It seemed unreasonable to me. Still, my Grandmother took great pleasure in her white sheets, and in the end, very little pleasure in our sharing. In fact, she got down right mad, when she say the kaleidescope of Easter colors which were extra colorful against the slight tint of bluing.
In the years to come, I would learn about unconditional love, about porcupines and sticking your nose into someone else's business, like my beloved Airedale, Beauty, had done. It took my Grandfather hours to pull those hard strait spines with the hook on the end from the delicate nose area while he told me as well as showed me, the results of sticking your nose in where it didn't belong. Being too curious does not pay and sometimes the result when you have not backed away leaves painful things in the heart that cannot be taken out without great pain. In later years, I tried hard not to end up like Beauty, but I still got my share of spines in delicate places that took a long time to remove and longer to heal. Thank you Beauty, my teacher of love and discernment. I learned love and respect and also that growling does mean business and should not be ignored. Sometimes it is in your best interest to "let sleeping dogs lay". The dog in the manger lesson came next wherein it was learned that this world is made for sharing and you can't share when you are laying and carefully guarding the prize. There is no happiness in selfishness. Others need to be fed as well, and having it all doesn't necessarily make you happy. Letting go of things is sometimes the only way to gain happiness. Some things just aren't meant to be, no matter how badly you want it and if pursued, may just bite you. Life, I learned, is not always fun and due to the cause and effect rule it can result in a lot of poop that has to be picked up and disposed of before you can go forward without stepping into more poop. Finally came the lesson, that we all should know and belief. Laughter IS the best medicine, and I spent hours of laughing at their high jinx and slowly I learned I could also laugh at myself. The best lesson of all!
And finally, the hardest lesson came in my first understanding of the finality of death, mourning, sorrow ,and the ultimate acceptance of things that can't be changed. Time can't be stopped and death is part of life. I have shed many a tear over losing my teacher and friend.
I can still recall the names and faces of all my owners, these hairy, four-footed, teachers of love. All different and yet, the same. Their places and memories still linger in my heart as I thank these little messengers and teachers of life,that God placed in my path. There is nothing more special then being owned by the best teacher of love,your dog.