Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mamakat: Dogs I Have Known

Mamakat's prompt: List the names of five dogs from your lifetime.  Write about why one sparks a stronger memory to you than the others. (inspired by Writing Fix)

As I sat down to write this, I realized that I have not actually had five dogs in my lifetime.  I've had five plus cats, all of them close personal friends, but dogs...not so much.  Which is weird. I love animals, and I have been perfectly okay with having a dog around.

There were always idiots dumping dogs out near my grandparent's farm all the time, and it seemed like every time we visited,  my grandparents had another dog, but these were all anonymous outside dogs.  This always bothered me.  A dog is a pack animal; it kills them to be kept away from their "pack".  If you are going to have a dog, the dog becomes pack.  That means being inside the house with the family, and most importantly, sleeping at the foot of a bed, keeping toes warm.  My grandmother wouldn't let any of the dogs come inside the house.  She would feed them, pet them, remove their ticks and fleas...she just wouldn't let them in the house.  Inevitably, those random dogs would disappear.  I always hoped that they found forever homes, but my grandmother swore that people would drive around stealing dogs to sell to research labs.  I've worried for a long time about that being true, but since my grandmother has Alzheimer's, I'll never know for sure.  

One of my first memories of a dog was a basset hound that we had when we were in El Paso.  My parents had to get rid of that dog, because, according to them, I kept putting it in odd places.  Like the dryer.  Or the fridge.  As a kid, I just took their word for it, but now that I am an adult, I have a really hard time believing that a child under the age of four could have lifted a basset hound by herself.  A basset hound would have weighed more than me at that time.  My parents probably told me that to justify not getting another dog for a very long time.  Just as well, since we wouldn't have been able to take the dog to Germany with us. 

When I was in middle school and we moved to San Antonio, my brother and I were allowed to get a dog.  She was a dachshund named TJ.  Why did we name her that, do you ask?  To eliminate any need for fisticuffs!  My brother and I were scrappers--any excuse for us to get into a brawl and we were rolling on the carpet throwing punches.  When my mother had had enough, she decreed that all animals henceforth would be named TJ, my first initial, and my brother's first initial. My brother argued that his initials should be first, alphabetically, but my mother had issued her decree and that was that.

TJ knew her place in the pack.  My parents would lock her into my dad's office at night, and when he opened the door first thing she would do is run upstairs and jump on my bed, then burrow under the covers until she got to the foot of the bed.  There she would nap.  TJ was also notorious for taking her food bowl, while she was eating, and throw the entire thing down the stairs if she did not like her dinner.  That's sort of a cattish behavior, I think. 

The last dog in my life was Sandy the Wonder Dog.   Sandy was a sassy yellow Lab who belonged to my husband before we were married.  Sandy was great with my cats, but she wasn't really too keen about me.  Sandy would jump on the bed, insert herself between my husband and I, and slowly, but purposefully nudge me toward the edge of the bed.  Once Sandy and I had a heart-to-heart about me being the one who actually fed her every day, we came to an understanding,  Sandy almost always seemed to be having a great time.  She would play with the cats like they were puppies, and they would chase after her and grapple with her tail.  When we brought Zane home, we were unnecessarily worried; Sandy took to Zane like he was one of her own.  Zane would lay on her and throw his arms around her neck, and life would be good for the two of them. 

Sandy lived a good long time, for a Lab. 13 years.  At that point, her legs wouldn't hold her up anymore, and it took great effort for her to get up.  We had to carry her outside so she could pee.   Sandy died on Easter Sunday.  After my husband carried her inside and laid her on the carpet, I noticed that she was panting very heavily, and she didn't seem to have any energy to get up.  I leaned over and patted her on the head, scratched her ears. 

"Good dog, Sandy!" I told her.  "Now you just rest for a bit."   Then I took laundry upstairs.  When I came back, Sandy had passed.  What struck me was the sudden quiet, the silence that seemed to permeate the kitchen.  That's how I knew that she was gone.  I was so glad that I had spoken to her and that I had pet her before she died.  She was such a great dog.  I still get a little choked up, even though it's been a couple of years.

Dogs get into your heart almost before you even know it. 



  1. I love that the cat lady had such room in her heart for dogs...especially the wonder dog!

    1. Yes. Just tattoo 'sucker' on my forehead! I love those widdle cold noses!

  2. They make their way into your heart, and then, they rip it to shreds when they leave you. Dang dogs.

    I just don't think I could live (very happily, anyway) without one.

  3. I am so loving these doggie stories and it's amazing how many of us have similar dogs in our stories...Have a great day!

  4. Sweet dog stories, we are dog people and currently have 2 in MO with Mr BC. and I miss them. I just vacuumed the house in CA and there is enough for me to knit a dog while I am here.

  5. After our dog passed, the silence was what I noticed most. You wouldn't have thought so, with a newborn baby, but I noticed. 17 years later, he's still missed!


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