Friday, April 16, 2010


To all the dogs I’ve loved before……..who traveled in and out my door………

From my very first scruffy looking, long haired black and silver coated pup to my top producing champion ROM bitch to my “wild child” and my girl who likes being pregnant so much that even when she’s not, she thinks she is! From my piano playing dog to my vacuum attacking “watch dog”…….they’ve all contributed to my life with dogs. Then there’s the 105 lb. male who scaled his six foot kennel to be with his half sister in her run, to the “escape artist”, who led half my kennel down the street for a leisurely walk on a spring like day. Yes sir, these dogs certainly did add some excitement to my otherwise “normal” existence. That cut on my finger, that bruise on my knee, that scar on my arm and the scars on my heart…….all reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Photographs of my dogs encircled in ordinary looking black frames line the walls of my family room as constant reminders of a happy and rewarding past. Maryland, Georgia, New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey are just some of the places we visited to take some of those blue ribbons home. Tolls paid, hotels stayed in, jets flown across the miles, handler’s bonuses, pictures taken…….all reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Stud dog services, bitches bred, puppies born, some live, some die, some stay, and some go bye bye. Good breeding, bad breeding, superstars, mediocre stock, ears up, ears down, full mouth, and missing teeth too……not in my line……must be your line. Good temperament, bad temperament, American lines, German lines, Champion titles, Obedience titles, ROM’s, some make it, some don’t, some are capable, and some aren’t. It matters not, because all were special and unique in their own way and they were part of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Some dogs long gone still come back to pay me a visit every now and then in my dreams. How I wish they would do that more often. They tease me for just a little while, running through my dreams and I never can reach out to touch them long enough because I awaken and then they are gone. It’s unfair. They make me long for them and I carry that dream with me throughout the day. Longing but never having…..they play with me just long enough to remind me of how much I truly miss them because they were a part of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Empty dog bowls, worn out collars and leashes, dried up dog bones, and ragged stuffed toys lay on scratched up floors and discolored carpets. A smudge still left on a window, a lone dog hair scattered here and there…..all reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Smart dogs, scheming dogs, spoiled dogs, lazy dogs, my “heart dogs”…..they all had different personalities and temperaments. Black and tan dogs, sable dogs, and black dogs too, coated dogs, light dogs, dark dogs, they all had different colored coats, but they were part of all the dogs that I’ve loved before.

You came in that door over there with your muddy paw prints to decorate my floor. You went out that same door everyday to bark a “good morning” to everyone in the neighborhood whether they were up or not. You were a fence runner. You were a fence climber. You liked to dig holes in my yard and you liked to dig up my flower beds. You were a dirt eater and then you were a “poop” eater. Never could cure you of that habit. You never seemed to mind. You didn’t think you needed a cure. The good, the bad and the ugly; just reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Puppy dog shots and dog worming too. Oh don’t forget about the rabies shot or Uncle Sam will come and get you. Heart worm medicine, flea and tick medicine as well. Pay lots of dollars to poison my dog but it’s all done to ensure his good health. Holistic dog food, natural ones too, or if you like the stores own genetic ones are available as well. No soy, no wheat, no additives but how about some “road kill” just to add a little spice? More health problems, more illnesses, and more vet bills. Just a part of the joy of dog ownership and all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Lessons learned. Lessons taught. Some learned quickly. Others presented more of a challenge. Some were eager to please. Others looked to be pleased. Some loved rides in the car. Others decorated the back seat as a reminder of how much they didn’t like rides in the car. Beds shared. Sofa’s as well. Pillow stealer. Food grubber. Scratches on my back door. Toilet bowl drinker. Cold, wet noses. Kisses on my cheek. Bad breath in my face. Neighbors refuse to come for coffee because the dogs are in the house. Aunt Mildred called and said she won’t be coming for Thanksgiving dinner this year because of the stray dog hair she found in her mashed potatoes last year. Oh yes, all parts of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

I loved you best, than you next, and you were always a little pain in the neck. You listened to me, and you didn’t. You wanted your own way and most of the time you got it. You on the other hand took whatever you could get. You were first. You were alpha. You were the underdog. You were the pick of the litter. You were the runt. But no matter what pecking order you fell in, you were all a part of the dogs I loved before.

So now I live with some new and different dogs that may be a combination of any of the different personalities that I once shared my life with. Will I love them the same? Will I love them more? I don’t know yet, until they too are no longer here and become just a memory and a part of all the dogs I’ve loved before!

Photo albums and show dog catalogs lay sprawled on my coffee table. Some of you are on those pages as a testament to the life you once lived. Life ended too quickly, gone too fast. I can’t keep up. Here one day, gone the next. I can no longer wrap my arms around you, but you’ve wrapped your love around my heart. You learned from me. I learned from you. I gave you my love. You gave me yours. But I’m afraid I’ve fallen short because you loved without question. But I on the other hand questioned how I could love a dog so gosh darn much! Just another lesson to be learned from all the dogs I’ve loved before!

My rating: living with dogs: (4)

From the book: THE OTHER END OF THE LEASH; WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO AROUND DOGS.....It matters greatly that people who love dogs understand enough about them to provide a good environment, writes McConnell (Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage Your Multi-dog Household) in her thoughtful exposition on improving human-canine communication. An animal behaviorist and adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, McConnell offers sound advice for dog owners: Pay attention to your own behavior. Believe me, your dog is. Drawing on anecdotes from her professional practice (she specializes in canine behavior problems), research into the work of other dog trainers and personal experiences with her beloved Border collies, the author explains how a dog might be misinterpreting signals from its owner. For example, although humans express affection through hugs, a dog may feel threatened by them. McConnell also provides tips on how to play safely with dogs (she recommends games of fetch rather than rough-and-tumble wrestling) and how to get them to do what you want (the best way to get a dog to stop demanding attention is simply to break off visual contact). She has harsh words for trainers who tell owners to establish dominance over dogs by behaving aggressively to them when they are young, and also for owners of puppy mills. These dog factories, she says, create damaged animals and unsuitable pets. This is a helpful guide for pet owners by a specialist who clearly loves her work.

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