Ode to My Dogs

When I was a kid I wanted a dog more than anything in the world. My parents tried a couple of times, but they didn’t know anything about dogs and twice adopted beagles… Then they gave up.

When I was in high school, I found a big red puppy and brought him home. That didn’t go well. He was great to go hiking with in the hills, but he wanted more than that — and deserved more than that, but I didn’t know how to train him. He was adopted by a farmer and went to live on a “farm.” We all know that can mean anything. Then my boyfriend brought me a puppy (I think he was a corgi) for Valentine’s day and I managed to train him. He fit in well, but soon I went away to school, dad went away to the nursing home, my brother went away to godnose where in downtown Colorado Springs and mom was home alone with the dog. The dog went nuts. Mom found a home for him. A real home this time.

20 years later I brought home my first real dog. Since then I’ve had nearly 20 dogs. At least that childhood dream came true.

I was out with Bear this evening. Usually Dusty T. Dog, Bear and I take our walks in the evening in summer, but sometimes Dusty doesn’t go. Tonight, being the 4th of July, I have drugged my poor hysterical boy, and by the time it was time for us to head out, he was too sleepy. Bear and I went alone.

When I’m out with Bear I don’t even want to come home. I could go forever and ever with her. She’s one of the dogs in my life who is not “just” a dog but a companion, an accomplice, a friend. There have been four others. I have loved and appreciated all my dogs — and they’ve been very different creatures from each other — but these five dogs have something unfathomable and precious, and all were — are — fun to be around. I have no idea what creates that bond between human and dog. I think it’s like people. We don’t like everybody the same way.

None of these dogs “Lassie” or “Rin-tin-tin.” None of the five have been especially “trained” or did any tricks. Instead, they’ve been somehow wise and slightly wild, or, rather, independent. I never thought any of them were trying to please me, though Bear is unhappy if she knows she’s made me unhappy.


Maybe when I was a kid, I already sensed the greatness of dogs and how happy I would be living with them. I don’t know. But it was always there.

23 thoughts on “Ode to My Dogs

  1. I can so identify with this post. As a “grown-up” I have had 4 dogs, all at the same time. 3 have passed and I am left with Scout who is having a hard time tonight with the fireworks, hours of fireworks. When the big ones stopped, I came to sit with him. I lost my heart dog two years ago. Sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s really gone.

    • ❤ I like that, "Heart Dog." That says it perfectly. ❤

      Dusty has had a tramadol and he's hiding in my bedroom which is normally off limits, but I think he thinks it's the safest place (because they guard my door all night…).

  2. I grew up as a littermate to dogs. I do not have a conscious memory that does not include dogs. They were are my best friends in a cruel and uncaring world. I loved them far more than any human member of my family. They returned the love that child never got from humans. To this day my family and I are just the senior members of a pack that we perpetuate by adopting new members after the old ones pass away.

    We don’t seek replacements. That is impossible. You cannot replace the object of one’s love, it is forever. You can find new love once the hard part of the mourning has passed.

    Our oldest has had his Tramadol, too. I regret never having gotten him used to shooting as a puppy. The younger two don’t seem the have a problem.

    • I like having 3 dogs. I’ve had as many as six and while that was fun for hiking (nothing like opening the back of your truck and having a joyful pack go running down the road) three is a better number I think for them and for me. I have lost so many dogs and it’s hurts every time. But ultimately I adopt another. Not a replacement — impossible. The new dogs always bring a completely different dog spirit/vibe.

  3. My mother did not allow any animals in her house, so all I ever had, growing up, were fish. Once on my own, a friend gave me a huge dog but I had no idea how to care for a dog so I gave it back. Years later, the dogs and cats started arriving in my life. I have been in love ever since. I so know what you mean about a dog not being ‘just a dog.’ Is that Bear in the top photo? So cute.

  4. Gosh! They are super handsome! Especially Lupo, Bear, Ariel. In Cody’s eyes there is a strange innocence i feel.at the same time looks a bit cop-like( curious what’s his/her story).. Molly seems pretty homely woman 😉 who sometimes loves to sit on her back yet vigilant.. ❤ Lovely Dogs

    • It’s not the best picture of Molly. She was really beautiful. Cody’s story is harrowing. He was the pet of a movie star who gave him up when she realized how difficult huskies are. He was rescued by a family who used him for breeding — not a puppy mill or anything, but he had a “wife” and several litters. Huskies are very nurturing and he was a dad to the puppies. Then the family fell apart, the husband beat the wife, she finally left him taking the animals all of which ended up at a shelter. She lied about Cody’s age, saying he was 3 but he was much older. When the woman’s life wasn’t sorted out so she could have her pets, the shelter had to adopt them out. No one wanted Cody. He was going to be euthanized. I saw an ad the woman had put up on Craig’s list saying, “Your husky…” I was on crutches after surgery, but I went to see him. With that dog I took my first steps with only one crutch. He matched me step-for-step, watching me constantly. We left him because we couldn’t take him yet because the shelter had a 48 hr waiting period. He wanted to come home with me and stopped eating. He ended up in ER. At that point it was OK for me to take him and he came home with me. I only had Cody 4 years but he was an astonishing dog and we had many wonderful experiences together. ❤

      • Cody died in 2011 of (possibly) liver cancer. He got very sick, a nice vet came out to put him down. I laid down next to Cody on the floor in my office at home. The vet gave him a tranquilizer and was getting the euthanizing medicine ready, but Cody died in my arms before she had finished filling the syringe. He was just waiting for me to tell him it was OK for him to go. ❤

        We took a road trip together in 2010 to visit my family in Montana. My uncle fell in love with him — it was mutual. They were so cute together

  5. This sentence rang true for me: ” I have no idea what creates that bond between human and dog. I think it’s like people. We don’t like everybody the same way.” Such wisdom you have.

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