When I look into a dog’s eyes I see more than a pet; I see my whole life mirrored back to me. I see my sometimes-lonely childhood and the trust that someone would always look out for me. I see a vulnerable soul with a wealth of love to give and receive.
My dogs give me something to occupy my mind and, when my mind is busy, I don’t have time to succumb to anxiety.
I have clinical depression and generalized anxiety, both of which are treated with medication. I became ill when I was a child but, back then, it wasn’t recognized. My father jokingly called me “Sad Sack” but the truth was, I was sad, a chemical imbalance not diagnosed until my twenties.
Medication corrected the imbalance for the most part, but sometimes my moods take a dip. There are days when I come home from work and the last thing I want to do is smile, let alone laugh. But then I open the door and my two, big, goofy dogs are waiting for me, each with a stuffed bear, tails wagging furiously.
As a dog lover, you know the feeling when your dog(s) greets you at the door, usually with a toy in his mouth, tail wagging furiously. You didn’t have to say or do anything. Dogs are just happy that you’re home. How special is that? My dogs make me laugh whether I want to or not. They pull me out of the deepest moments and save me from myself, over and over again.
My love of dogs started with a rabbit-hound named Skippy. I was 6-years-old, waiting in the backseat of the car while my father rummaged under the raised floor of my uncle’s old hunting cabin, a derelict structure without electricity or running water. It was summer and we had driven deep into the woods. The black flies swarmed the car and I watched my father swat at them with his Sunday cap.
My mother looked back at me and then to the cabin, eager to see my reaction. Of course, I didn’t have a sweet clue what the big secret was!
Then my father shimmied out from under the cabin and as he approached the car, I saw a small, wriggling dog in his arms.
I was a quiet child and I didn’t whoop or holler or even laugh out loud, a personal trait my mother found incredibly annoying. But this day was different. I leaned forward and held out my arms, my mouth wide open.
To be honest, I don’t remember who came up with the dog’s name. I just remember it was Skippy. To this day, I have a very special place in my heart for hounds. Skippy was covered with fleas, ticks, and mud but I didn’t care. He was mine.
This is the only photograph I could find of me and my father. There are no pictures of Skippy because – unlike today – we didn’t have smart phones and we didn’t regularly carry cameras around. Cameras were usually for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays. My mother must have thought this was a special occasion when she took this picture.
I had a lovely relationship with my father. He was nearly 50 years old when I was born, he and my mother having raised two daughters already. You could say I was a surprise!
My sisters are 16 and 18 years older than I am, and they had moved out of the house by the time I was old enough to realize I had sisters. We lived on a dirt road in a rural town with very few other kids around to play with. But I had Skippy. I snuggled up to him on my mother’s pristine kitchen floor, played with him in the backyard, and followed the dog, and my father, on rabbit-hunting excursions.
I vaguely remember the day I came home from school and Skippy wasn’t outside in his pen. I asked my mother where he was and she, looking uncomfortable, mumbled something about the dog “disappearing”. Something inside, maybe childhood naivety, accepted the explanation without fuss or question. I can’t explain that to this day.
Here’s a picture of my mother holding me. It was 1967 and she was 38 years old.
Now I’m 50 years old and I have two dogs – a golden lab and a pitbull mix. Emma, the golden lab was “romanced” by the pit-bull down the road one day. We pretended we were a little upset but secretly, we were pretty excited about the pups.
My husband and I kept one of her ELEVEN pups and sold the rest for a small fee to suitably screened owners.
Here’s the “pup”, Coco, now 6 years old, drifting asleep.
And here’s his mom, Emma, now 6 1/2 years old. Emma is the golden lab and the pup cuddled next to her is my son’s boxer, Nora.
I don’t think I’ll handle it well when their time eventually comes. I hope someone will help me through it. Even though I watched my father and – years later – my mother, fade and eventually pass away, something about the eventual passing of my dogs has me tied in knots. Ridiculous, I know. I have to remind myself every single day to focus on the here and now. I believe it’s part of the illness.
If you’re reading this, you obviously LOVE DOGS as much as I do. It means a lot to me that you’ve arrived here and I intend to bring you the best, most accurate information about dog health.
My extensive research and experience led me to create this blog in the hopes of helping other dog owners find reliable, practical, and useful information.
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