There was a time in my life when I thought for sure I would be a veterinarian. I was good at science, I loved animals....made sense. Dissecting an assortment of critters in high school cured me of that notion, however, and I have found myself instead working in schools with the two legged species.
My love of animals has continued though, and throughout my life I have had memorable experiences with all of our family pets, some good and some bad. From my barn-sweeping, stall-escaping horse Ben, to our current Rottie, Masha, who just minutes ago was begging for baby spinach leaves like they were steak.
I have to confess that I have never been a very good disciplinarian with any of our dogs, beginning with the three German Shepherds I grew up with. Despite the television portrayal of shepherds as guard dogs, drug dogs, and police dogs, ours were typical family pets when they weren't snarling at the paper boy. Nights when my parents would go out to dinner, my sister Kerry and I would have Misty on the living room couch with us before their car was out of the driveway....and we were in high school! If dogs could be embarrassed, Perky and Fega, who preceded Misty in our younger years, frequently endured being dressed in children's clothes, and forced to remain that way as we played. I specifically remember the knee socks....four per dog... that would slide down their legs and trip them up as they walked. I grieved for my four legged, childhood friends as each went on to that big farm in the sky.
The four dogs that have joined our family since my own children were young have also been honored, revered, and dressed in kid's clothes by my own children. Our first three were Golden Retrievers, who were such goofy, lovable creatures, that I think they enjoyed the attention and craziness of being dressed up. They were also "students" in my daughter's imaginary classrooms, and reindogs when there was a sled to pull outside. On one occassion, my kids had managed to lift, pull, or drag 80 pound Tigger to my son's top bunk bed, where we found her surrounded by stuffed animals like E.T. Chris and Katie's giggles gave them all away, and I must say it was probably harder getting the dog DOWN, than it had been for them to get her up there.
My favorite story of our last golden, Chewy, was the day I came home to find her standing in the middle of our kitchen table, as if it was the most normal thing in the world for her to do. Nearly blind since birth, she depended on her nose to guide her, and there must have been a scent of food lingering there. It appeared as though she had pushed a chair in place to use as a step up onto the table, and may have been stuck there for some time. Amid fits of laughter and fake scolding, I somehow lifted this 65 pound, face licking, uncooperative dog to the floor. I swear she knew she was just hysterically funny.
I miss each of our former pets for so many reasons, and am so happy they blessed our lives with love and friendship. They will always be our four legged side of the family.
A warm country hug to all,