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Unexpected Friendships-How to Stay Open to What Life Brings Your Way

Updated on December 26, 2011
Special birthday treats made withTLC
Special birthday treats made withTLC | Source

Sometimes a friend shows up in unexpected ways

She’s having a birthday this December, but it escapes me how old she really is. I know we will celebrate that, I’m just not certain how. Maybe we’ll go out for a walk…or we may try to make her wear a party hat, like we did last year, (she wasn’t having any of our shenanigans).

She is a devoted and loving friend who can always pick up my spirits. She is just like that; always there with a smile and cheery disposition. And, she keeps close watch on me-she knows when I’ve left town and can’t wait until my return.

She is our family dog…well, my nephew’s dog who came to live with me at the same time he did. One cannot separate a boy and his dog-that would be too harsh. In J’s world, he’s had more than his lifetime’s share of abandonment, deaths, and losses for one person to bear. I willingly paid the extra security deposit required for pets in this rental property.Beauty is the one constant in the sometimes very tense household. Living with J and his emotional problems is like being on a rollercoaster: thrills, chills, screams and plenty of ups, downs and fast curves that want to throw you out of your seat. I have a good idea about his basic disposition and ability to handle the unexpected, yet there are always those surprises that pop up.

Thankfully, Beauty is there to offer a friendly wag of her tail or lick of the face-even when I resist! I laugh to myself whenever I have one of those ‘Lucy’ moments. Remember Lucy? She is the Charlie Brown character who hated ‘dog kisses’, and boy, did Snoopy get her every time!

Ugh! Dog Kisses!

Black Beauty

Click thumbnail to view full-size
BeautyUgh! Dog kisses!Beauty balancing her treat.Beauty begging for a treat with her soulful eyes.
Beauty | Source
Ugh! Dog kisses!
Ugh! Dog kisses! | Source
Beauty balancing her treat.
Beauty balancing her treat. | Source
Beauty begging for a treat with her soulful eyes.
Beauty begging for a treat with her soulful eyes. | Source


I grew up with animals in my home. If you read my hub: 'A Dozen Positive Parenting Tips' ( ) you will note the opening paragraph…there was quite a menagerie in our home with six kids and all wanting a pet of some sort for their own. Well, after that experience I did not care if I EVER had another pet in my lifetime.

Yet, I was not the kind of parent who denied my children the experience either. So, first to arrive, despite my protests, was a soft, furry puppy that my soon-to-be-second-husband brought home from his cousin’s farm. I was completely against it and argued for days, mainly because I was in nursing school and did not want the extra work of training it; also, because it was not our home and the landlady forbade pets of any sort.

But, his rationale was that the girls needed something they could bond with, having just been torn from their father in a divorce. He lived five hundred miles away and John wanted them to have something to help them over their separation from him and their beagle, Snowshoe.

I reluctantly relinquished providing he did the training, and we went about the task of naming this cute fur ball. My name was chosen…whether it was truly because they liked the choice, (Bandit, for the black encircling her eyes like a mask), or they were hoping to win me over is uncertain. But, it wasn’t long before Bandit stole my heart.

Lady and Sahara

The next two dogs came after Bandit passed away. Lady was a tricolor collie we brought home from the Rescue Shelter. She was beautiful and tried to fit in, but had been abused and was quite skittish and kept trying to get free to roam the streets.

With one new dog in the house I had no intention on adding to the confusion by bringing in a second one. But, my youngest daughter, Christa, began the campaign when a friend from school showed her pictures of his dog’s litter. “Please, mom,” she would beg me at the dinner table, “Just look at them…We HAVE to get one or they will be killed at the shelter!”

For a long time I resisted taking a peek at the photos and knew doggone well that those cuties would never make it as far as the shelter’s door. She finally won me over and again, the name game began to decide what to call our latest family member. Hmmm, they liked the name I chose-is there a pattern here?

Sahara was a gorgeous, long, red haired dog that was a mix. She was the size of a Cocker Spaniel, (mother), and the color of an Irish Setter, (father). Originally, she was a sandy blonde, thus the naming after the Sahara Desert. She eventually grew into her copper tone color which I envied, and we became fast friends. My frequent lament, “Why does this dog have to go everywhere I go” was always followed by, “because she LOVES you.”

There is a wonderful feeling that comes from taking care of a pet. Pet therapy is a widely recognized tool in helping patients, particularly the children and the elderly overcome their illness, fears, and loneliness. Although I never intentionally seek out dogs to have as a pet they come into my life and I’ve enjoyed each one.

Reasons why dogs make good pets

The most important reason I feel that dogs make wonderful pets is for companionship. A child loves to roll around in the grass wrestling with a puppy, enticing it to chase after him. There is a special bond between 'man's best friend' and its owner-no matter how old that owner is.

Having a dog in the home can alert the homeowners of strangers approaching. This may be especially important for people, such as the elderly or women, who live alone and feel unprotected. Our dog happens to bark at anyone whose scent she does not recognize.

Some people own dogs for show, others for sport. People who show their dogs often do so with pedigree breeds. Dogs don't need a pedigree to enjoy the thrill of the hunt...just a reliable nose. Here in the south hunting is a huge sport and the hounds can be seen travelling in the back of trucks in large cargo carriers.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Ibis-thanks for reading and commenting. I support the use of dogs in therapy-whether as a trained service dog, or as part of our hospital 'pet therapy' program.

      No matter what my mood, Beauty is always sweet.

    • Ibis Suau profile image

      Ibis Suau 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Denise Lovely hub, and yes is true how much happiness and joy they can bring to our lives. They area always with the same disposition to give you love and warm at any time. My dog Luna is very important to me. she is part of our family and occupies a privileged spot in our hearts. I called her " my baby girl". The Lucy cartoon video is very funny and original. thanks.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Inthenickoftime, how are you? Thanks for reading and sharing about Sooty. He sounds sweet. Lucky you to be able to take him to work with you. Have a great weekend.

    • inthenickoftime77 profile image


      8 years ago from New Zealand, aka: Aotearoa, aka: The Land Of The Long White Cloud

      Great Hub Denise. I have had three dogs in total. The furry member of the family now is called Sooty. He is a sable coloured Shitz Su & is the most fabulous dog. He is 12 years old now, but still a spritely old boy, who goes everywhere I do & even follows me around the house. He is never far away. I am even fortunate enough to be able to take him to work with me & he sleeps under my desk on a sheepskin. I dread the day when he goes to doggy heaven but I dont think he will ever be replaced. Beauty looks like a little Beauty too. Nice photo

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      What a lovely story and experience Minnetonka Twin. Thank you for sharing that! I'm hoping you are well now? God bless. Thankyou for reading.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Denise-I agree that pets are so good for us. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my dog was with me all day when the kids and their mother were out at school and work. He made me laugh when I didn't think I wanted to laugh. He protected me, loved me and brought my spirits up at a difficult time. I decided to bring my dog Joey with me to radiation once a week as I knew it would help my anxiety and other patients. It was fall when I went through radiation. All my new friends would get a kiss from Joey on their way in and on their way out of treatment when they saw him looking out the car window and wagging his tail. It's like Joey knew this was his new job and he sure did it well.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you so much, Stessily, for your thoughtful feedback. Indeed, the four pawed angels do show up when needed, don't they? Thanks for your wonderful sharing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Denise, the beauty of J's Beauty sparkles through this tribute to these furry entities who share their hearts and their lives so generously with all whom they encounter on their planetary journey. Nature has always made a difference in my life and has always been there, waiting for me to notice or sometimes nudging my attention. This world would be vastly different without our best friends. No dog has ever been a stranger to me; wherever I go, they notice me and want to greet me, to "know" me through such imperceptibles as my scent, etc. They always seem satisfied at making my acquaintance, and I know that a day that seemed determined to make me rue it has switched to a different gear through a canine encounter. Perhaps I have encountered angels after all.:-)

      Kind regards, Stessily

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi K9-Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I know there are some loyal dog lovers like you, for sure! HubHugs back to you! Boy, did that feel good. Now I'm wagging MY tail!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      Denise, this is a lovely hub! I would be so lost without my dog. Pets complete my life, to have a little creature to nurture and snuggle, as well as having the gift of uncompromisable loyalty helps to center my soul. I found your writing smooth and inviting and above all, a true gift from a talented writer. Thank you for sharing such a special "tail" about love for our fuzzy creatures. Your intro was delightful and I adored the twist!

      HubHugs my friend~


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Movie Master-thank you for sharing your experience here. It is sad when this 'member of the family' leaves us. It leaves a hole in the heart and an empty corner in the house. Perhaps a visit to the animal shelter???

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I don't have a dog anymore since my Major died, how I miss my dog's company. I love the way you started your hub! animals are a wonderful part of the family!

      Voted up and thank you for sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hahaha, no...truly I did not! I was trying to start with a different, not so obvious angle-you know "my dog Beauty" kind of thing.

      AFTER it was all done and I was driving to work thinking of my conversation with you about rendevouzing on Sunday after the retreat I realized that you both share the same birthday month. LOL Sorry, the dog to priority, hahaha. Love you honey!

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      I DID Mom, that is so funny! I know you planned it that way! :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Vinaya-I'm sorry to learn that your Apso died, how sad. There is always another dog that deserves our love, although it will never replace our previous pet.

      Thanks for reading and good luck with raising German Shepards. :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      8 years ago from Nepal

      My Tibetan Apso died couple of months ago and now I'm going to raise German Shepard. I'm animal lover. I have animal husbandry.

      I enjoyed reading your perception.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Ruby-so sorry to know that you cannot be around animals-or at least the furry kind. What a shame. I will have to share my experiences with family cats another time.

      Hi Gail...thanks!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Yes, the twist worked great!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wonderful Denise. Your love shines through your words. I'm allergic to animal dander. I know i miss a lot by not having a pet. My Sister Mary has a beautiful cat that is so smart. I went to see her last week, and was only in her house about 10 minutes when i started having difficulty breathing. I am being treated with injections , but i wonder if i will ever be able to be around an animal. Sigh...Thank you. Cheers

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Cara-Glad this hub brought out some good memories for you. Did you think I was refering to your Dec b-day? LOL

      Hi Carol-I'm sorry to hear about your you miss him/her. Too bad that the condo rules are such. My condo in MI allows animals. Not that I plan on having any more pets when I get finally move there, LOL BTW-made it to the gym today. :)

      Credence2-thanks so much for sharing your experiences about the dog situation. It is amazing how our friendly, affectionate, and sweet dog turns into a warrior when strangers approach!

      Gail-you're right-smart kids/ smart mom. They know how to work me, LOL Thanks for reading. As for the opening, I was trying to work in a twist. I think it worked!

      Hi Danette-I know your cats and dogs are important in your family too. Amazing that we had so many pets at one time growing up, isn't it?

      Hi Cindy-thanks for reading. I agree, for all my complaining and grumbling about dog hair all over, esp on me when I come in with a white uniform on, they are pretty wonderful.

      Eddy-nice to see you here, but of course-the animal/nature lover. Thank you for reading and commenting. :) Animals are amazing aren't they?

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      So very beautiful Denise,thanks for sharing this gem and here's to so many more to share.

      Take care and enjoy the rest of your day.


    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Aren't Pets wonderful. They take life and make it more special. They are always there for you when you really do need a Lucy moment. I love my dogs and my cats.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Yes pets certainly do become members of the family, don't they. As irritated as I get with ours, I can't imagine getting rid of any one of them. Nice hub, I agree with Gail, at first I thought you were talking about a person and was trying to figure out who you were talking about. Voted up

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub. The first paragraph really drew me in and it was a nice surprise when I realized you were talking about a beloved dog. Loved the photos and the way you brought everyone's personality to life. I thought it was really smart that the kids kept deciding on the names you chose for the pets, but then that didn't fool you one bit, did it?

      Voted up across the board.

    • Credence2 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Thanks, Denise, we have three goldens and while their incessant barking can be annoying, we know they are there to protect the house and alert us to the presence of strangers in our midst. I am always amazed at the their heightened sense of smell and hearing, awareness, while I just stand dumbfounded. We have an arrangement where the missus deals with the poop stuff, feeding and all that. I am not an animal person, but have learned to appreciate the role these pets play in the household. Great Hub, Cred2

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      8 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      I love this hub Denise. I had a dog that had to be put to sleep several years ago. When I moved here in my condo, the rule is we can't have pets. I've managed to live with that, but I truly do miss having a good friendly dog around.

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Very touching hub. Although we are not yet ready for the "responsibility" of a dog, you know I finally gave in to the cat. But you are right about the bonding and companionship with any animal and Charlie Raisin is no different with our family. In fact the he was snuggling up to the biggest protestor tonight as Alex was reading a magazine. Nice job...I miss those doggies! :(


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