To Truly Love a Dog
This isn’t what this blog was supposed to be about.
In fact, I was writing this week about something quite dear to my heart. Something I believe in to my core. Something that is so very important in this day and time.
And then life got in the way.
Know how that happens?
But as with all things that occur in this incarnation, my way of dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly, even the joy- and sorrowful, is to write them out. That other blog will just have to wait.
I talk about my dogs a lot. They’re such an enormous part of my world, and enrich it in so many ways.
They do yours as well, no? I’d stop here and provide statistics as to how much money folks spend on their pets, about how many families are owned by pets. But that’s not really the focus this time. Although it’s a lot of money involved and a huge percentage of our population.
One of the greatest sorrows in having them is that one day—all too soon—they’ll cross that rainbow bridge. Even if they live out longer than their predicted life spans, it’s always, always, far too soon . . .
Having an oldster is also one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed upon us. They’re so noble, enduring the indignities of old age with scarcely a whimper. The hearing goes, as does the vision, and they compensate. Even if orthopedically sound, the bones get frail, the hindquarters weaken. The day looms on the horizon . . .
And you know that every day with them is a beautiful gift.
Still, when they go . . .
Scoutie was not one I bred in my home. A dear friend did, and gave me the great honor of taking her home as a baby. I fell in love with her then (which we breeders know not to do—they have miles and miles of health clearances to pass before they can be in the breeding program, not to mention growing into those of sound type and structure as well).
It wasn’t, however, like I had a choice. Sometimes they grab you by the heart and just refuse to let go.
Thankfully she did work out, although no one believed for a second she’d have gone anywhere anyway 🙂
Ah, the miles we traversed together! What a joy she was to show in obedience, always the happiest dog in the ring. We still laugh at how she would wag through her sits. A judge and crowd pleaser for sure. And such fun running her hunt tests. Fearless she was—as long as she could still see me!
Of course with her one litter we ended up at the vet’s at midnight for an emergency C-section, and I’ll never forget how she awakened there to lift her groggy head and start licking her babies.
From that she gave me one of my other true heart dogs, Harper Lee, who has gone on to many wins and titles, when not lying across my lap.
As the end was drawing nigh, I of course knew it. Had known it for a while. And appreciated every day as the gift it was with her.
I was gone all day, and hadn’t been home ten minutes when in true Scoutie fashion, she took that hardest decision from my hands. After waiting until I got back.
And as she’d done with every step she took in this life, she wagged until the end.
What a wonderful lesson these kids are for us. The unselfish love they give. The constant, unconditional caring. The noble march through old age and into the great beyond.
Would that I could be like that.
Anyone who’s ever loved a dog, truly loved a dog, knows the depths of the sorrow.
How blessed I was and am. She’ll stay in my heart forever. Because of course as we give voice to, and sometimes actually know, in the end it’s those we love who matter most, whether two- or four-legged.
My hope is that you are so loved . . .
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.