A new understanding

For the longest time I never understood how folks could become so attached to their animals. Let’s face it, growing up with a Basset Hound is not what I consider to be the ideal family pet.  She wasn’t a bad dog, she just wasn’t that stereotypical, picture perfect dog that could be classified as “man’s best friend.”  Of course, she was never allowed in our house, only the basement part of our garage and only when it was frigid outside, or she was in heat, or when she had pups. How could one get so attached to a creature that spent most days roaming the yard or woods?  Duchess wasn’t a dog who would just sit and enjoy being petted. Plus, she smelled, as most hounds do,  and she hated baths.  As soon as she was out of the bath, she was running to find dirt or grass so she could roll around and dirty herself up again.  In other words, she just wasn’t a dog that captured your heart, at least not for me, my sister and brother may disagree.

Anyway, when Terry and I were first married, we took in a stray cat because he refused to get the boys a dog. To be honest, I am not a cat person.  I learned to like them because of my children.  In fact, you learn to like a lot of things for those you love.  We’ve had several cats and buried several cats.  A couple even ran away, maybe for better food or for more adventure. Who knows.  Anyway, I just don’t have a particular fondness for cats. Obviously, I was sad when one of them died or went missing, but not completely heartbroken.  I was more heartbroken for my kids because they were heartbroken.

Finally when Amy turned 10 Terry decided it was time to get a dog.  The dog would be “her” Christmas gift. One afternoon before Christmas, Alex, Amy and I went to the local pet store to scan and look at the puppies.  There were plenty of cute puppies to choose from but the Bichons caught our eye.  I don’t know if it was because they looked like little cotton puff balls curled up beside one another or if their cute little black noses and eyes(Side note: Bichon’s do not have fur.  They have hair.  It actually grows like our hair, which is why it has to be cut every 5-6 weeks) Maybe it’s because I knew ahead of time the breed is hypoallergenic and that was important to me. Needless to say, I gravitated to the Bichon and even took a picture of Amy holding him.  Sent it to Terry.  He said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, December 24, 2008, Terry and I went back to the pet store to peruse and find the perfect dog for Amy.  Again, we were surrounded by multiple choices and some really adorable dogs.  Of course I migrated toward the Bichons and finally persuaded Terry to come look at them and then it happened.  I encouraged him to hold one and I held the other one. After a few minutes the owner came over to talk to us.  He was telling Terry all of the benefits to having a Bichon, just like I had previously told him. It also helped when he told us the breeder was going to lower her price because it was Christmas Eve.  Terry chose the one he wanted by putting them both back in the crate and observing their behavior.  He chose the more calm one.

That happened nine years ago.

Remember the dog is for Amy, right?  Amy didn’t pick the dog.  Terry picked the dog.  Amy didn’t name the dog.  Terry named the dog.  So who’s dog is it anyway?

Most days he’s my dog.  Oh, he loves to curl up on Terry’s lap when he’s home.  Terry says, “He’s the only dog I know that can make you tired because he’s tired.”  I have to remind him that a Bichon Frise means “curled up lap dog”.  He definitely lives up to his breed.   He follows me.  When I get up, especially if I’m heading into the kitchen he follows me. There have been times when I’ve had to cook with him on my hip just like when my children were babies. If I’m not holding him, he lays on the floor and watches my every move.  Of course he’s hoping I’ll drop something so he can scoff it up. He’s always excited to see me when I get home.  He comes to me when he needs to go outside.  He lets me know when he’s out of food or water, which doesn’t happen often, just every now and then. He takes care of me when I’m sick, or at least he thinks he does.  He just curls up right beside me or on my lap and won’t leave my side until I get up. He’s highly protective of me.  He’s the best watch dog. His bark is annoying and aggravating but no one is getting in my house without warning. I absolutely adore him.  All of the kids accuse me of loving the dog more than I love them.  There may be some truth to that.  He’s always delighted to see me.  He doesn’t talk back.  I can hold him and love on him anytime I want.  He will always stay little and he will always need me.

Now I completely understand how people become so attached to their fur babies.  They truly become part of the family.  I really can’t imagine what it would be like without the company Sammy provides for me.  I know I will miss him terribly when he is no longer with us because he is a part of our family.

There are many things in life that we do not understand.  We don’t understand because we don’t have the experience.  Experience is a teacher.  Once we’ve learned by the experience, then and only then, can we share the lessons we learn and impart knowledge and wisdom gained along the way. I know wheat it’s like to watch a parent suffer and die. I know and understand from the standpoint of a young child and older adult.. However, I don’t have the foggiest clue of what it feels like to lose a spouse or child to death. I can pray for them, empathize with them and point them to others who’ve had that experience but I cannot impart any great knowledge or truly understand how it feels. It would be a travesty for me to try to impart some wisdom or truth into something I know nothing about. On the other hand, it’s a travesty if I’ve been given wisdom and knowledge and refuse or neglect to share what I’ve learned with others who are facing similar situations. Remember people need people. We were not designed to go it alone. God never intended for us to do life alone.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.. James 3:17

Ned and Sammy

One of my favorite stories to share about Ned is the love that developed between him and our dog Sammy. In order to do the story justice, I need to start from the beginning.

We had a dog growing up. A basset hound named, Duchess. She wasn’t the most loving dog. A good dog but not one that was allowed to come hangout in the house, primarily because she smelled and she shed!

She lived many years and Ned took really great care of her as she aged but he wasn’t all together fond of dogs.

Almost always on Christmas Eve, Mom and Ned would spend the night at our house. They were always eager to be part of watching their grandchildren open their gifts on Christmas morning.

In 2008, it was no different. Although, I did ask Ned if he was sure he wanted to stay because Amy was getting a puppy.

He replied, “Of course your Mom and I want to stay. I just don’t understand why you feel the need to get a dog. They’re nothing but trouble and you have to find someone to take care of them when you’re gone. Don’t ask me because I am not keeping yours or anyone else’s dog!”

I’ll bet as soon as he saw the delight in Amy’s eyes the next morning, he, too, was smitten by the 1.9 pound puff of white fluff.  However, he wasn’t about to cave-in at that point. He was way to stubborn!

After about 6 weeks, we were sitting at Amy’s basketball game and I told him we were going out of town the next weekend.  Jokingly I said, “You want to keep Sammy?”

His response, not shocking, “Now, I told you I don’t like dogs.  I am not keeping your dog.  I told you they’re a lot of trouble and you had to get care for them when you go out of town.”

I replied, “No worries.  I’m already boarding him.  I just wanted to see if your mind had changed.  You may not want to keep him now, but I’ll bet you will.  He’s so cute and sweet and he doesn’t shed.”

He huffed and said, “I’m not keeping your dog.”

After another few months, we had to board Sammy again.  It was not a good experience for him or us.  He was mistreated.  That didn’t make Ned happy either.  However, he still wouldn’t yield.

Then we found Emily.  A friend’s daughter who agreed to keep him.  He enjoyed staying with Emily and her family.  He was well-loved and cared for there.

One weekend, Emily wasn’t available and I decided to give Ned an opportunity to say, “yes”  By this time, Sammy was more than welcome in their house.  He was actually invited to come anytime we were visiting or having family functions.

I called and we chatted a few minutes.  I was prepping him for the big question.  “So, we’re going out of town this weekend and don’t have anywhere to leave Sammy.  I don’t want to board him.  Will you keep his cute little self?”

Without an ounce of hesitation, he responded, “Yeah.  I’ll keep him but I’ll tell you one thing right now, that dog is NOT sleeping in my bed. ”  I assured him that I would bring Sammy’s crate and he could put him in the crate at night.  I did forewarn him that he would cry because he was accustomed to sleeping with us.  I told him, “He likes his crate but only in the daytime and only when you’re not home.”

We left and Sammy was happy as a clam to be staying with Mamaw and Papaw.

The next morning, I get a call from Mom.  I just have to tell you what happened.  “We put Sammy in his crate last night.  (They put the crate in the laundry room which is on the opposite side of their bedroom)  He started to cry.  He was so pitiful.  I went to brush my teeth.  I told Ned, ‘if he doesn’t stop crying I’m going to get him.  I’ll take him upstairs with me and we will sleep on another bed.  I just can’t stand hearing that little thing cry.’  By the time I got ready for bed and came back into the room, Ned had the dog in our bed.”

She sent a picture and I can’t find it.

Needless to say, Sammy stayed with them anytime we went out-of-town, except for the past few times and Ned was too sick.  Good for Sammy, Alex was home and willing to take care of him.

The above picture was taken two Christmases after Sammy arrived.  Again, on Christmas day when Mom and Ned were at the house to watch their grandchildren open their gifts from Santa.  My what a difference two years made…….

This year will look and feel so different for us but I am so thankful and grateful for the many Christmases we had together!