When looking for an old post yesterday, I ran across one of my very first blog posts, that has always been one of my favorite stories. Growing up, I was always a cat person and this story is about how I came to fall in love with dogs as well. I’ve been feeling sentimental lately, must be the holidays, and I really wanted to share this story again. Since it was early in my blogging, I’m pretty sure only family and friends ever saw it (and they left some very nice comments). I did tweak a couple of grammatical errors in it, and add one photo collage, but otherwise it is the same as when originally written.
A Spiritual Awakening of Sorts (original post September 2012)
People who visit our zoo…er, home, and meet our 4 dogs, would be taken aback to learn that I didn’t always really like dogs. Only the people closest to me know that.
We never had dogs growing up….as a child in Massachusetts, my family only had a couple cats that came and didn’t stay, I don’t remember why. I also had a rather mean parakeet named Perky who would bite anyone who dared to try to take him out of his cage. (Of course, we still loved him in spite of that.) Later as a teenager in New Hampshire two stray cats found their way into our yard and our cajoling finally wore my father down, and he let us keep them. I had many cats after that, but no dogs.
My baby book has an entry from my mother under “favorite toys” that reads “stuffed animals, especially dogs”. Perhaps that was foreshadowing on my mother’s part. I did indeed have a stuffed dog named Lucy that was with me until I was well into my 20’s. She was limp and dirty by then, and eventually I must have lost her or decided it was time to let her go.
I can’t point to any specific reason why I didn’t really like dogs, or was even a little afraid of them. I would visit other houses where people had dogs and maybe their dogs jumped on me or otherwise misbehaved. One friend had a little Pekingese who barked at me a lot when I visited. He may have been trying to tell me something. But I didn’t hear it.
When I met my husband after moving back to Massachusetts, he didn’t currently have a dog, but he had had several dogs throughout his life and he definitely wanted another. I put him off for a bit, though we did agree that we would get a dog when we owned our own home.
We moved back to NH in the early 90’s, when the late 80’s real estate high had busted, and we were unable to buy a home immediately. We decided to rent a house, if we could, and found a nice one out in the country. The landlords lived right next door and we went for our interview to their home. They had two Labrador Retrievers….a black Lab named Mariah and her son , a big chocolate Lab named Moses (they later got a 3rd, a yellow Lab named Molly). As we sat on their couch talking, those dogs were all over me….on the furniture clambering for my attention. As uncomfortable with that as I might have been, I politely patted the dogs. We rented the house, and since we were pretty far out in the country their dogs sometimes ran loose and came down to visit us, especially Moses. We took long walks on those country roads with him accompanying us. That soon got to be a routine, and he would play with rocks in the brook and just generally entertain us and keep us company. I fell in love with that dog.
We eventually moved to another rental home, and then finally were able to build our own. The promise of getting our own dog was still there, but now I was more enthusiastic about the idea. After settling into our new home for a few months, we saw a commercial on TV for the local humane society where there were puppies available. We went to see them, there were only 2 puppies left by then, and we chose what we thought was the quieter of the two. On our way home with her we named her Shelby. She turned out to not be that quiet after all, but that was OK. She was a good girl and stuck to the rules of the house that prohibited her from being on the furniture.
We took her hiking and camping and she enjoyed all of that very much. Shelby was not a beautiful dog.…I often joked that she had a “face that only a mother could love”. However, she was cute and loveable, and she had a beautiful soul.
When she was only 6 years old we found a lump in her chest. The diagnosis was an aggressive form of lymphoma. There were treatments available and we chose one which we felt would not be too difficult for her. She quickly got better, and her remission lasted about 3 months. But it was a good 3 months, through that time we still took her hiking, and she felt great. We treasured that time by spoiling her and giving her free run of the house, furniture and all. Her death was rather sudden and happened on a sad rainy day when we were not home. I will always feel guilty that we weren’t there for her, but I think in her own way she knew it was time to go and it would be easier for us if we did not have to make that agonizing decision ourselves.
I believe that all of our animals leave their mark on our heart, and their own legacy. Shelby’s legacy was that once she was diagnosed with cancer, all the silly household rules went out the window, and she had that free run of the house, which paved the way for every dog we’ve had since. They are all allowed on the furniture, and appropriately spoiled in every other way.
Sometimes it may not even be our own pet that leaves that mark. When we brought home our current male golden retriever, we named him Moses; in honor of a sweet loving chocolate Lab who left his legacy by literally changing my life. I now cannot imagine being without dogs and their unconditional love.
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We are joining the Thursday Barks and Bytes blog hop. Many thanks to our hosts 2 Brown Dawgs Blog and Heart Like a Dog. Please visit them and others through the links below.
What a lovely story! I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. I have photos of my mom with her black Lab while she was pregnant with me. I’ve never ever been dog-less. 🙂
I have a photo of my Mom as a young woman with a dog, which I cherish. My dad didn’t love animals, I think if it had been up to my Mom we might have had a dog. I think I’ve had very few times in my life when I didn’t have a cat, and I know I’ll always have a dog or dogs for the rest of my life now!
Groovy Goldendoodles says
Such a sweet story. I hadn’t read that before – thanks so much for the re-post!
Bev Green says
Oh Jan i think Shelby was gorgeous…that face so cute with the whiskers and long furs 🙂 what a sweetie..a great story…i grew up with dogs and later cats….i cannnot choose between them…they all make our lives richer and i feel your sadness at not being there with her…whenever we have had to make that decision about a pet it kills me….but i would be just as shattered not to be with them ..hugs and loves Fozziemum ccc
Thank you, Bev. I always figure that no matter how the end happens, it’s going to suck. Sudden or expected, home or not, the end result is the same….we miss them desperately.
Each and every pet is indeed special, dog or cat, and we could not be without them, even when it hurts so much to lose them. xxoo
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
Shelby was beautiful! Thank you for sharing the story with us! I so understand your guilt for not being with her at the end — I would never have been able to forgive myself if my sweet Kissy had passed while I was away from home — but I’m glad you have found some peace in knowing that Shelby knew she was loved. Have a wonderful day!
Thank you! Oh, I’m pretty sure I’m not over that guilt yet. At least she was in the care of our neighbor who had been helping us out with her, and she loved him too. Her treatment required frequent potty breaks and we both worked full time then so we needed help.
The Island Cats says
What a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Thank you for coming by to read it, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
That is a sweet story…Funny how dogs will do things to people you never expect huh?
Thank you. I certainly never expected it!
2 Brown Dawgs says
What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it on the hop. Stupid stupid lymphoma.
Thank you. Yes, stupid lymphoma. It never seemed fair that my very first dog was with us for such a short time.
Your story is great! My Mama and Papa are from NH and MA, respectively. Papa says he used to be afraid of dogs when he was a kid. Can’t tell now though, since we are “heartmates” indeed! *wags* – Gilligan from wagsahoy.com
Oh, that’s cool your parents are from New England as well! It’s amazing how a person can go from being afraid of dogs to being a crazy dog person. 🙂
What a great story! Mom didn’t care much for dogs until she was in her later teens. She was always a cat person, but then in college she decided she wanted a dog to have as a running and walking buddy. Because Mom is extreme, friends never went walking or running with her more than once. Finally she got that dog and since then, she has gotten more and more dog crazy and less and less cat crazy.
Yes, it’s been just the same way with me. (not the extreme running part though…LOL). You sure can’t take a cat running with you, though we did have a cat once who liked to walk with us! (in fact, that was at the same time as the beginning of this story, and Donny probably walked along with the Lab Moses sometimes). We’d have to bring him back home if we were planning a long walk.
Dolly the Doxie says
So glad you shared it again so that new readers can enjoy it. I am just the opposite, always been a cat person, even though I grew up with dogs. I know I’ll have more cats but probably not dogs. L
I think sometimes it can be just what works out or fits into your life at the time as well. After Shelby, we didn’t get another dog for 6 months. I felt like I would be replacing her and I just couldn’t do that.
It’s funny how much one animal can change your life! I was never a cat person, but then I got Soth and can’t imagine my life without him.
And all it takes is just one, and that leads to a lifetime of love!
What a beautiful post Jan, I’m so glad you shared this story. I think Shelby was beautiful, there is such a sweetness in her eyes.
Thank you for adding it to the blog hop, I’m so glad you revisited this post.
Thank you so much, Jodi. I’m glad I revisited this as well, there are some really happy memories in here. I just have to try not to dwell on the sad part.
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
What a beautiful story to revisit! Thank you so much for sharing!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
Thank you so much, Jenna, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
We just found your blog so we hadn’t read this story before – it’s such a lovely story and I’m so glad you republished it. It’s so true that dogs leave a mark on our hearts, and I believe each one changes us forever in a very special way. 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, and thank you for coming by and reading it! You are so right that each and every dog is special, and the mark they leave on us is unique.
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
What a beautiful post, thank you for re sharing it with us. You have such a kind heart, so glad you opened it up to dogs. They fill it with so much love, different than cats do.
Thank you so much, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I think dogs seem to need us more, and that’s part of the reason their love is different than with cats.
Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes says
I’m so glad you revisited this story. It was so wonderful. But I wish you had put the standard “no mascara” warning at the top. 🙂
I’m also glad that Moses and Shelby pushed you over the edge into being a crazy dog person. Lucky you.
Thank you, and sorry I didn’t think of the tissue warning. 🙂
You are right, I am so lucky those two dogs came into my life and changed me.