My dad loved animals so he would often show up after work with a dog that someone was giving away free at the office.
Our first dog was a brown, bull terrier mutt. The other dogs in the neighborhood were afraid of this small, muscular, brown dog, but he let my two-year-old baby sister pull on his ears and tail. Butch kept an eye on all of us, but he loved her best. I witnessed the day he yanked her away from the busy street by the seat of her cloth diaper. He died when I was about eight or nine.
Dad soon after came home with another terrier mutt. This one was all black and had a white mark on his face, so we named him Zorro like the TV character we all loved. He too was the lead dog in the neighborhood but this one loved my older brother best and would perk up every time my brother played with him.
About the same time, we owned Zorro, Dad came home with a full-blooded English cocker spaniel. We named him King because he looked like a lion with his golden mane of hair. He and Zorro vied for lead dog, but Zorro always won. He wouldn’t play with us. He knew how to unlatch the gate and would take off on adventures at will. When we chained the gate to keep him in, he learned to climb a vine that grew over the fence. One day he disappeared, so someone may have claimed him for themselves, not knowing they had done us all a favor.
Zorro died when my brother was a senior in high school and I was a junior. It was devastating for all of us, so we all vowed we didn’t want to get a dog any time soon. By then we were growing up and would soon have our own homes, so it would be up to us to decide on whether or not to own any pets.
Newly married, my husband and I decided to adopt one of his mother’s dog’s puppies. Our dog was a small, fluffy, wimp of a pet. Duke was part beagle, dachshund, and terrier. A true mutt. We took the largest, thinking it would be a mighty warrior. It took him months to learn how to bark and even then, it scared him. In a fight, he always lost or ran. He was hard to train, but he grew up alongside our three children, and they loved him. He was with us for fourteen years.
We tried our luck with two other dogs to replace the family pet, but a tiny Peke died the day we brought her home, and the other, a Pug, had so much wrong with him from his blood line being overbred, that we had to return him and demand our money back. I had never cried for a dog before, but the day my husband and I took Bubba back to the owners, I bawled so loudly, I scared everyone, including myself.
The kids and their dad went in search of another family dog. My only stipulation was to bring back a short-haired dog, one easy to groom and train.
They came back with a golden-haired Pekinese, the runt of the litter. My husband thought it would at least stay small and cute. It had a pedigree and papers to prove it. It grew to be over fifty pounds and lived more than fifteen years. In that time the kids grew up and moved away from home. I got divorced and lived alone. Our big boy developed cancer and the vet said I would know when to let him go. When the day came, I made an appointment with the vet, and called the kids to come say goodbye. He perked up as each one came to visit but he became a young pup and got up to play when the youngest came to see him.
My son slept over that night, but before midnight, he woke me and said his beloved pet couldn’t wait any longer. My son found a clinic open twenty-four hours and while he held his pet and best friend, I drove us there. He stayed with his dear doggy until the end.
HoneyBunch and I do not own a dog. I have asked and he has said no, definitely no. His pet stories are harder on the heart than mine. We have had so many loved pets in our lives and hesitate about going through that again. I love cute puppies and kitties. I enjoy watching the shenanigans of my granddogs, but we agree to protect our hearts and to be selfish with our time.
I won’t say we will never own another dog in our life time, but for now, we prefer to live with our memories.