- Pets and Animals
The Dogs of My Life
Part of the Pack
A life without dogs is not worth living. Just my opinion, of course. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of years in which there wasn't a dog in my life.
I was lucky to be born into a home that already had a dog. (That's me with my mom and that dog, Maggie, in the picture.) My parents didn't like the idea of life without a dog, either, so there was always a dog at home. There were a couple of years when I was on my own in an apartment, but as soon as I'd met the love of my life and moved into a house, we went out and adopted a dog.
Here's the story of those dogs, and a few other dogs I've known and loved.
All photographs are the property of bossypants. Please do not copy without permission!
Did you have a childhood pet?
Maggie was some sort of Spaniel-Terrier mix, according to my parents. I don't remember how old she was when I was born. I'm an only child and when I was little my parents referred to Maggie as my "big sister." This is clearly the source of my tendency to anthropomorphize animal behavior.
Maggie was amazingly tolerant and patient, as any good family dog should be. I remember sleeping with my head on her soft rear end, on the back seat of the car, on the way home from dinner at my grandparents' house.
In fact, a lot of my memories of Maggie involved the car. Our family vacations were modest, usually driving to a neighboring state. Maggie always came with and shared the big backseat of the Oldsmobile with me.
Although always my companion, Maggie was clearly my parents' dog. She slept on their bed and was completely their responsibility.
When Maggie had to be put down after a stroke, I did not take it well. My parents thought it best I didn't see her, so I didn't get a chance to say good bye. I told my father if he didn't come home with Maggie, I'd never speak to him again. Of course I couldn't keep that promise and eventually all was forgiven. It never gets easier to lose a pet, but our time together is more than worth the sadness at the end.
The back of this photo says "Kodacolor Print" and shows the date 1952. Old color didn't hold up so well, did it? By the way, this picture was taken before I was even a twinkle in my father's eye.
Those are my parents, with Maggie. The other guy in the photo is my uncle, holding his puppy, Jennie, another dog I grew up with. Jennie was a Collie Shepherd mix.
Here's another one of those fine Kodacolor prints. This is my mom with Maggie.
Back in the days when my parents were looking for dogs, it wasn't uncommon for people to pick an ad from the classifieds and go to a nearby backyard breeder to choose a pup. My dad made the initial visit but knew better than to choose the puppy himself. My mom and I went along and my mother selected the blond Cocker Spaniel puppy and named her Abigail.
Poor Abby could have been the poster child -- er, pup -- for why one shouldn't choose a dog in this way. She had so many problems -- an underbite, ear problems, eye problems, incontinence -- and she wasn't the brightest bulb in the box, either. But, Abby had a very sweet nature.
My folks also weren't big on having Abby groomed, so she often looked like a ragamuffin. When the fur on her feet was at it's longest, she looked like she was wearing enormous fluffy bedroom slippers.
Abby had what my mother referred to as a "piddle problem." We learned early on that certain guests (my Great Aunt was one) so excited Abby that she'd wet the floor. So, we'd let her outdoors to greet new arrivals. Incredibly, Abby never wandered out of the yard, despite there being no fence. All my parents' dogs seemed to understand the homestead boundaries and had no interest in leaving the patch of lawn that fronted the house.
Abby was never a very active dog and could sleep like the dead. In fact, my dad nicknamed her crash, because she could be walking along and suddenly flop down on the floor and would soon be asleep. On reflection, I suspect she may have had a sort of narcolepsy or other sleeping disorder.
Despite her many health problems, Abby lived a long life. I had just come home from college and was talking to my mom when she said, "I can't believe you haven't noticed." Abby rarely greeted me at the door, often stirring from her deep sleep sometime after I'd been home to come over and sniff me. So, the fact that I had missed the fact that Abby was gone was really not so remarkable. My parents had had to have Abby put down while I was away at school.
Becky was a beautiful black and white Springer Spaniel my parents purchased. I was away at college at the time and Mom and Dad showed up one day and smuggled her into the dorm. My dad often remarked, after that, how smart she was because she'd been to college.
Although all my parents' dogs were spayed and didn't have pedigree papers, my parents always referred to Becky as though she did -- saying her "real" name was "Lady Rebecca of Wimbledon." I don't recall them giving Abby or Maggie fancy names, but perhaps they had.
Although selected for purchase in the same way as Abby had been, my parents got lucky with Rebecca. She was a healthy, happy, active dog who lived a long life. I was on my own, with my own dog by the time Becky had to be put down. It was especially hard on my mother, who seemed to adore Becky most of all their dogs.
Talk about tolerant! There wasn't anything Becky wouldn't endure in what we assumed was good humor. We'd dress her up in t-shirts, hats, scarves and glasses and she would sit for what most pets would think of as humiliating photographs.
Becky in her later years, and having a bad hair day to boot.
When the man who is now my husband and I rented a house together, we decided we needed to have a dog to keep us company. Off to a nearby humane society we went.
I was looking at a Great Dane. I looked down the row of kennels and saw my sweetie gazing at a Samoyed. It was clearly love at first sight. (We lived in an 1100 square foot ranch house -- not sure what I was thinking looking at a Great Dane, anyhow!)
She was named "Stardust" and had been given up by her owners at 7 years of age. All I could think of was, whatever the reason, it must have broken their hearts. After we completed the paperwork, Dusty eagerly got into the car with us and came home.
Dusty looks a bit wet in this photo, so I'm guessing this was an "after bath" shot. Dusty got bathed more than she would have liked but when you make a habit of catching skunks, that's bound to happen. She even brought a baby skunk into the house once. Great white hunter.
The book Sniglets taught us that this attitude of the head is called a "twinch." Samoyeds are expert twinchers.
Yes, Dusty was our princess. But not as snooty as she looks in this photo.
Dusty enjoyed opening her Christmas presents -- and anyone else's if they contained dog treats.
Another Christmas portrait. Dusty started our tradition of sending cards from the dog: to the vet, the pizza delivery people -- all the important people in her life!
There's that Sammie smile!
Yes, she really did sleep with her leg up in the air. A good way to cool her belly, I guess.
We got a free offer for custom baseball cards and made them up for Dusty. They even had stats on the back. Her position was fetcher. Her favorite team was the Chicago Pups and her favorite player was Andre Dawgson.
The day after taking Dusty to the vet for the final time, I was on the phone with our friends and with Samoyed Rescue. Within 2 weeks, we were driving to the other end of the state to look at a Sam girl who was in foster care.
The foster family was calling her "Sugar," defining it in shrill baby talk, "'cuz hers so sweet." They showed us how she would dance for a cookie. Because they had another large somewhat ill-mannered male Sam (which they owned), Sugar was penned in their breeze way. Although I think their intentions were good, we knew we had to get her out of there. The rescue had to approve us, so we couldn't pick her up until the next day.
We went to dinner and decided Sugar would henceforth be known as Tundra. When we pulled up the next morning, she was looking out the breezeway at us with an expression we chose to think of as "thank heavens you've come!"
Tundra dearly loved rides in the car. When she developed arthritis, later in life, we were grateful for our four-door sedan so we could lift her in and out. She waited patiently for us to raise her into her carriage.
Tundra took her squirrel duty responsibilities seriously. Here she is guarding the tree and keeping an eye on the squirrel above.
Tundra was our chow hound. Perhaps because she had been a street dog before her adoption, she seized every offer of food. She was a good girl, though, and never took what wasn't hers.
Tundra inspired the phrase "pack in the sack." She didn't sleep on the bed overnight, but loved a morning nap among the covers.
Always up for a walk in the park, Tundra could be trusted off the leash -- most of the time. She may look like she's going in after the geese (off frame), but she didn't (that time).
Tundra lived with us for 14 years after her rescue. We never knew her exact age, but we estimated she was at least 15.
Nattie, like her Sammie sisters before her, is a rescue. However, she was a breeder return, so we know much more about her, including her birth date and exact age and her pedigree.
Nattie has an entire web page that tells her story, so rather than post her photos here, I'll suggest you click on the link and read about The Dog Behind bossypants. In fact, there are several lenses, here on Squidoo that feature Nattie. Happy reading!
Kristie - A Malamute Cousin
Kristie was my uncle's Alaskan Malamute. This is a rare picture as she was a reluctant model. Most photos of her, when we did get her to sit, show her ears back and looking completely unhappy with the photo shoot.
Duncan - The Dapper Dresser
"Don't laugh! You'll embarrass him," said my friend, Duncan's mom. I'm afraid that ship sailed when you dressed him, I thought.
In their defense, Duncan was an apartment dog and had a fairly long walk in Midwestern winter cold to relieve himself in the doggie-approved area. But he did make me laugh.
Henry - A Golden Boy
Henry was the drooliest Golden Retriever I've ever met. He lived with my uncle on the Oregon coast. My uncle captioned this photo "just the right height" for Henry to rest his chin on the table.