Hey Y'all!

It took me awhile to get here, but alas I'm finally joining the blogosphere of bloviation. It took a rant floating around in my head to send me toward this journey, but so be it. We'll have some fun here too. I promise. Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave me a comment or two. ~ diane

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Dogs We Love

Yesterday, my good friend Terry Young told me they'd had to bury a beloved pet. The sweet Siberian Husky actually belonged to her daughter's family, but they all live on a "compound" in Naples, so Nikka was truly a "family" dog. Hearing about it stirred up memories of our own loss back in 2007 when our Tickles died. My heart still twists every time I pass the animal hospital where we had to put her down. Maybe the hardest thing I've ever had to do. She was such a precious member of our family for 11 years, and I still miss her.

Last week I finished reading Marley & Me by John Grogan. I haven't seen the movie, but the book was hilarious. Grogan is a gifted writer and his stories of "the world's worst dog" kept me in stitches. Until the end, that is, when the big ol' loopy Lab had to be put to sleep. Having walked down that path, I felt the intense heartache he described as if we'd buried Tickles only yesterday.

How is that dogs get so entrenched in our hearts and make themselves at home there? And why do we put ourselves through the agony of such profound grief, knowing that one day we must say good-bye to them? I know, I know. Death is part of life and all that. But with such short life-spans (as compared to humans, I suppose) we face the inevitable much sooner than we'd like. And saying good-bye to a faithful pooch can be excruciating.

Grogan put it this way: "I was embarrassed by how deep my grief went for this dog, deeper than for some humans I had known. It's not that I equated a dog's life with a human's, but outside my immediate family few people had given themselves so selflessly to me."

That explains it. The daily, unconditional love our dogs give us is such a welcome gift in a world that often makes us crazy. Politicians may be ruining our country, the economy may be squeezing the breath out of us, our hearts may be hurting for those devastated by all these natural disasters . . . but when my sweet puppy crawls up in my lap, lays her head against my chest and lets out a contented sigh, I know I'm gonna be okay.

And that's why, after burying such beloved friends, we soon find ourselves looking for a new pup to love. That's why we welcome them into hearts, in spite of "the inevitable" that looms a few years down the road. And that's why they're called man's best friend.

I thought I could never love another dog like I loved Tickles. But about six months after we lost her, we brought home a tiny black bundle of fur. She was completely different from Tickles, but oh my gosh, did she ever love me! I should have named her Velcro because she attaches herself to me 24/7. She always shadows me from room to room, even insisting on following into the bathroom. If I'm away from home for even a couple of hours, Ken tells me she sits on a chair in his office trembling. Separation anxiety much? Yeah. She's a little wacky in some regards. If she's gone with us on an outing, as we come back into the house, she rushes inside and starts her Welcome Home dance, as if she'd been there the whole time! How silly is that? But you better believe we love it every time she does the Darby Doo!

About a year ago, Dave & Sue Manginelli (our nephew and his wife, also one of my best friends) had to say good-bye to their baby, Bernie. He was their child, their son, and in so many ways, their life. And oh, how I loved that dog! Still do. I have to admit Bernie was one of a kind. The unabashed adoration he showered on those he loved was a power to be reckoned with. If you quietly began singing Happy Birthday, Bernie would start singing along, howling with his head back in canine bliss! We got to dog-sit my puppy-nephew on several occasions and it was always felt like having a rock star in our home. I wasn't sure Sue & Dave would ever fully recover from Bernie's sudden death in 2008, but they did. To soften their grief, they poured their emotions into rescuing THREE sweet puppies. Bernie wrote them a letter (channeled via yours truly) not long after they brought their three girls home, making sure Dave & Sue were cognizant of the fact it took THREE GIRLS to take his place. Though truth be told, no one ever could.

Such a long post but such a heart-felt subject. Just feelin' a little puppy love today, I guess. Terry, I'm so sorry for your loss. Someday in the not-too-distant future, may you and your family enjoy the pitter-patter of puppy paws once again.

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