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The Dogs in Our Lives: Part I

Updated on October 12, 2012
Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbara Anne Helberg is a Fiction freelancer, Internet writer, WordPress blogger, former Journalist, and a Famous Writers School graduate.

Ebony in front of Marblehead Lighthouse at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, Lake Erie, one of our favorite hangouts. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2005)
Ebony in front of Marblehead Lighthouse at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, Lake Erie, one of our favorite hangouts. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2005)

Memories Are Forever

Before we know it, a dog becomes a living, breathing, begging, loving, partnering member of our family. He's up and down when we move about. He sleeps when we sleep -- after the pangs of puppyhood pass! He watches for us to return home. He guards our property when we're away. He cocks his head as he watches TV with us. He eats like a human teenager.

Moreover, he wiggles his way into our memory banks, and although we outlive him, he never retreats from our lives.

Ebony

I am pictured at Hubpages with my "water bug" Newfoundland, Ebony, simply because the picture is the only professional one I ever had done with one of my canine companions. My friends and I went to a training and picture-taking program sponsored by the local pets boarding and veterinarian compound, where a professional photographer was on site.

It was a fun day with lots of pets and people intermingling, and Ebony was chosen to demonstrate a sit-stay routine with the head trainer conducting the program.

That was a couple years into my partnership with Ebony.

Ebony, the swimmer, was also ever ready to play ball. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2001)
Ebony, the swimmer, was also ever ready to play ball. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2001)

My very first day with Ebony was memorable. I took her out to the yard before I had to leave for work and sat with her and gently brushed her coat and talked softly to her about all the good times we would have at the lake, and she listened with contentment.

Before that was the interesting part. I actually picked her up that morning from the vet's, where she'd spent her first night as my pet to be spayed. And I needed to make a couple brief stops before heading home with her. Number one stop was to grab a fast food lunch. I was driving a large van, which had a large dash on which to balance a large sack with my large-sized lunch -- in front of my new large-sized dog.

We were new together, and I didn't give the lunch sack a second thought as I stopped again at the pharmacy to pick up a prepared prescription. I suppose the rest is an easy guess. I returned to the van to find one large, torn, empty lunch sack on the floor beside the driver's seat. Well, at least she looked a bit ashamed when I quietly questioned her as to the whereabouts of my lunch. Then I laughed and petted her, and we were buds for life.

Ebony the clown outside our apartment after a playful wading pool romp. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2003)
Ebony the clown outside our apartment after a playful wading pool romp. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2003)
Inside our apartment, those eyes followed my every move, and what dog lover doesn't love that? (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2004)
Inside our apartment, those eyes followed my every move, and what dog lover doesn't love that? (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2004)
Ebony was definitely just as at home in the snow. She often wowed me with snow dog angels. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2006)
Ebony was definitely just as at home in the snow. She often wowed me with snow dog angels. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2006)
Before Ebony became the full-fledged, insatiable swimmer, we did some hose and wading pool practice. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 1998)
Before Ebony became the full-fledged, insatiable swimmer, we did some hose and wading pool practice. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 1998)

My granddaughter was three when I rescued Ebony, and her first encounter with my new Newfie was unforgettable. It was a hot summer day, so I set out a wading pool in anticipation of my granddaughter's visit, thinking she and Ebony could get acquainted with a bit of water play.

I gave my granddaughter a water ball to throw into the filled wading pool and told her Ebony would try to get it before she did. It worked a couple of times quite nicely -- screaming good fun. Then the ball flew awry onto the sidewalk, and child and dog bolted for it. They reached the ball at the same time, and Ebony nudged granddaughter as she snatched the ball up, while granddaughter stumbled and scraped her knee as she landed under Ebony's chin.

Of course, there were tears on the part of my granddaughter, so I scooped her up and took her inside for a Band-Aid. As I lifted her to the kitchen counter top to examine the cut, I told her Ebony wasn't to blame for her boo-boo, that the dog just had been trying to reach the ball first. Ebony hadn't meant to knock her down, I explained.

Lifetime friends! (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2002)
Lifetime friends! (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2002)

My three-year-old granddaughter replied between sobs. "I know, Grandma, but -- sob -- that dog has -- sob -- a really big mouth!"

I certainly could appreciate her point of view. Eye level with a mouth full of teeth, competing for a ball...

There were no hard feelings. Ebony and granddaughter became fast playmates and friends.

Ebony, like most Newfoundlands, was very partial to children all her life. When children got past their initial reaction to seeing her -- "Is that a bear?!" -- they were all about making friends, and Ebony was a willing recipient to their eager petting.

Full grown, Ebony's regal, commanding beauty attracted attention wherever we went. She was stunning.

Ebony (1998-2009) as a young, under-ruffed "pup" posed at Port Clinton. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 1998)
Ebony (1998-2009) as a young, under-ruffed "pup" posed at Port Clinton. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 1998)
Posed at the same location, Ebony is a full grown, 125-pound Newfoundland. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2003)
Posed at the same location, Ebony is a full grown, 125-pound Newfoundland. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2003)
Ebony at Port Clinton testing the water's edge before learning to swim. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 1998)
Ebony at Port Clinton testing the water's edge before learning to swim. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 1998)

Like all my dogs, Ebony was a rescue project. I was working a factory second shift when I rescued Ebony and brought her home to stay in May of 1998. The Henry County Humane Society, which had housed Lady Ebb, as the employees called her, told me that she loved being sprayed with a water hose. That was fine news because I loved to go camping beside Lake Erie at East Harbor. Ebony would be my water-wading buddy.

Surprise, however; my new Newfie knew nothing about getting into the water, as in to swim!

Ebony the more learned, mature swimmer at the limestone quarry near Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, Lake Erie. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2001)
Ebony the more learned, mature swimmer at the limestone quarry near Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, Lake Erie. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2001)

It didn't take long for Ebony to catch on to the lore of swimming. One of the best times I ever had with a dog was teaching her how to fetch a stick thrown into the water and spending resultant hours of fun with her. Once acclimated, she found swimming to be the joy of her life. It was difficult calling an end to her day in the water. I was never much of a swimmer, but the water always has spoken to my inner wonder. Its vastness, its power, its challenge was fresh to me every time I went to spend time near it. And Ebony seemed to experience the same thing.

On our final trip to the lake, when she could no longer get about with the agility of youth, Ebony thanked me for bringing her that one last time. After her brief swim, she lay calmly on the hillside in the park across from the lake and gazed at the water, then at me, and back to the water. Several times, Ebony repeated that look back to me with peaceful, resolute eyes that spoke of times remembered and thankfulness.

Remembering that moment forever brings tears to my own eyes, thinking of my once joyous "water bug" finally grounded.

Ebony on the banks of the Maumee River at Napoleon. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2001 -- My favorite)
Ebony on the banks of the Maumee River at Napoleon. (Photo by Barbara Anne Helberg, 2001 -- My favorite)
Best Friends
Best Friends

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    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @midget38...Thanks for stopping by!

      To clarify -- Ebony passed away in 2009. I adopted her in 1998, when my granddaughter was about three, and that story I told about the wading pool incident occurred in 1998.

      My new little love peanut, whom I rescued in 2010, is Cee-Cee. I featured her in "The Dogs in Our Lives: Part II Cee-Cee".

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Ebony's beautiful! Glad he's found a home with you and your granddaughter too. Thanks for this share as well! I share here too.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @sradie...It's always a happy moment to meet another dog lover! Thank you for stopping in and sharing your feelings on Ebony's life.

      Dogs really convey feelings we sometimes can only wish for from another human!

    • sradie profile image

      sradie 

      6 years ago from Palm Coast FL

      Having been a dog lover/owner all my life, I totally embraced your lovely story of Ebony and the tears came on queue when you recalled your last water outing with her. So many wonderful memories of a life filled to overflowing by the companionship of a dog. Thanks for sharing.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @mary615...It's nice to have your thoughts on Ebony. She was easy to photograph, and so I have many life-like memories of her, as well as the recall of heartfelt stories she created for me.

      Dogs do become so very entwined in our lives and presume special places in our households.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @Thelma Alberts...Thanks for following this series about dogs in our lives, past and present.

      Ebony is missed every day; fortunately, yes, the memories are forever, and indestructible.

      And I'm fortunate to have another rescue under my roof again. Cee-Cee is a joy!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      What a beautiful dog, Ebony! I loved your photos . My Miniature

      Schnauzer, Baby, is my constant compantion: she goes where I go (well, almost everywhere). I've written Hubs about her. She is the Queen of our house.

      I enjoyed reading this Hub, and I voted it UP, etc.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany

      What a lovely tribute to your beautiful Ebony. Ebony certainly left a great and joyful memories in your heart. Thanks for sharing.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @teaches12345...Nice to hear from you again, teach!

      I appreciate your comments...Yes, pets certainly do enrich our lives! Ebony was a beautiful, loving dog, and Cee-Cee is an energetic bundle of love! Love is what dogs are all about!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      What a nice share on your pets. They are part of a family and make our lives to much richer.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @aviannovice...I'm so sorry you lost you buddy. It is sooo difficult. Hopefully, you will find a new love.

      It took me two years to consider it again, after illness, and I was pointed right to the next one! Perhaps you can take heart from my second story in my Dogs in Our Lives series, Part II Cee-Cee.

      Thanks so much for stopping by this Hub!!

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @Eiddwen...Thanks for stopping by, Eddy! Nice to make an acquaintance from Wales!!

      Hope you enjoy Part II Cee-Cee, as well!

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @writer20...Thank you so much for those hugs, Joyce!

      Yes, Ebony's loss was heartbreaking. She was the first dog I had after my own family was out of the nest, so her companionship was extra special. She certainly was a treat!

      It took almost two years, but I did adopt again -- from a giant to a peanut! Cee-Cee, a 20-pound terrier mix, came to me in a chance meeting, and the rest is a new love story, which I just posted today!!

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @drbj...Thank you for commenting on Ebony's Hub!

      Eb was the most photographed dog I ever adopted. A camera just magnetized itself toward her!

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @RhondaHumphreys1...Thanks for your thoughts!

      Yes, our dogs are our best friends forever, really, as we never lose their memories. I began a new memory in 2010, almost two years after losing Ebony.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      An excellent story. It may "end" in one way, but the memories will live on forever. Thanks for sharing life with your best friend. Mine just passed a month ago.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      6 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub;I truly enjoyed it and look forward to many more.

      Eddy.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      It must have broken your heart losing such a loyal friend. I'm sure when your ready you'll find another one to love because there are so many in pounds all around our cities.

      Sending hugs to you Barbara.

      Voted up, awesome and beautiful, Joyce.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      What sweet memories of that beautiful dog, Ebony, you must have, Barb. Loved your reminiscing and the lovely photos.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image

      Rhonda Humphreys 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      What a beautiful dog Ebony was. I love the photo of her over looking the water. They sure do become a part of our life and even after they are gone their memory lives on with us. Voted up and beautiful

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