Look into the eyes of a dog. You see expression. Meaning. A softness that expels emotions of love and loyalty. A dog is a pack animal. When you invite a dog into your family, you are adding another child to your home. Dogs big or small need to feel involved and wanted.
I've never understood why people adopt dogs to keep them outside. Like people, dogs need comforting, loving and stimulation. Without it, they will exhibit behavior issues and lack of trust.
I have owned many dogs in my 52 years of life. My first, an Old English Sheepdog named Sunny, was a rescue. He accompanied me to college, ran and walked with me daily and helped me keep in shape and allowed me to wrestle with him, groom him and care for him. He was my partner for so many years and I loved him. Sunny always knew when I was feeling sad and would snuggle up to me and lick my face. He would sit quietly by me when I was working. He would greet strangers with a "cold" entrance until he knew they could be trusted with his best friend. He even warded off an unwanted advance once. I always felt that it wasn't I who saved him but he who saved me!
You Can Fall in Love More than Once!
After Sunny, I knew I couldn't live without a dog. In fact, I have owned many dogs that have made such an impact and difference in my life. When my son was born, I owned two Collies; Ashley and Shelby. My son was born with Asperger's Syndrome and these two dogs became his guardians immediately. He could not walk in the yard or move from room to room without one of these dogs following him to watch over him. Not only did they watch over my boy, they introduced him to stimuli that most children with Asperger's struggle with. Long hair in his face, kisses from wet tongues, weight bearing against his body and eye contact. My son learned how to accept these stimuli from infancy and I truly believe that Ashley and Shelby encouraged growth in my son.
My daughter was born while Ashley and Shelby were alive but they both had passed by the time she was three years old. I had just gone through a messy divorce from my kids' father and relocated to a new house. My daughter was hit by the divorce most harshly. I knew that I needed to get a dog that would help her through this transition in her life. Enter Lacey. Lacey was a long coated German Shepherd. She was the smartest dog I have ever owned. She had such intuition when it came to the needs of her family. She was fiercely protective of the three of us but opened her protection range to include any child in her proximity. Lacey had her own chair in our house and was not only mothering to my children but to small animals; including our kittens and orphaned bunnies that we found and nursed to health. When Lacey was a couple years old, we inherited a Yorkshire Terrier puppy we name Spike. Lacey became his mother and modeled behaviors to this young pup. They became so close. My daughter could walk both Lacey (a 120 pound dog) and little Spike (7 pounds) around the block with ease. Both of these dogs provided love and companionship to my daughter during her impressionable years and served as loving therapy for her.
Five years into Lacey's life, she developed a brain tumor and lost her ability to navigate. We took her in, with the heaviest of hearts (Spike included) and said goodbye to one of the most loving and intelligent dogs I have ever known. All of us were heartbroken, including little Spike.
2 More Make Three
I have always been an advocate of rescuing dogs. After Lacey's death, Spike was miserable and my children missed her terribly (I also had many a night of tears). We decided on getting another dog. While scouring the paper, I found not one but two prospective puppies. A Collie and a Newfoundland. I visited the Newfoundland first. It was apparent that she was in a puppy mill. She was covered in fecal matter, huddled in the back and trembling. I knew I had to take that puppy. We named her Millie. My second visit was to the Collie farm. These puppies were raised in a wonderful setting and by a wonderful family. One rambuntious and naughty pup wouldn't leave me alone. I couldn't resist; I took him as well and named him Jasper.
These dogs added such joy to our home and Spike quickly bonded with Millie. Jasper lived up to his name and was quite the challenge to train. He was destructive and kept us all on our toes. Millie was gentle, loving and laid back. Unfortunately, she also had many health issues due to her beginnings. She already had hip dysplasia and was quite ill from a variety of worms and pests. She lost her fur and had to have special care her first year of life. We loved our dog family however and now, having two cats, two birds and a rabbit, we found that all of our pets co-existed wonderfully and without any issues of fighting.
Millie, due to her health issues early on, lived a wonderful three years in our home. Her hips and legs finally stopped working and she is missed daily by our family.
And Then Comes Bella!
Just this past July, before our sweet Millie passed, I was fortunate enough to find a little fur ball I named Bella. She is a toy Pomeranian and was only 1.5 pounds when I got her. She has more personality than 5 dogs in one! She is a little spitfire and provides you with so much love. She makes you feel like the most important person in the world. Bella has been my therapy. I have been going through some personal struggles and while Spike and Jasper provide me with love and companionship, their personal choice is to spread it to all. Little Bella is "my" dog. She sleeps with me and loves car rides with me. I can dress her up in cute little clothes and she fills that empty void that I have been feeling in my life lately. Jasper and Spike adore her. She has livened them up! I feel as if I am reliving the years when my children were little because this little girl throws toys all over the house. I am constantly picking up her play things but loving it at the same time.
Dogs complete a person's heart. The sorrow of losing a loved canine companion is horrible. However, it cannot compare to the joy that you receive from a dog. My dogs will forever be my four footed children. They will always have a place in my home and in my heart. My children have grown up with dogs and are better people because of them.
What better therapy does one need in their life?