My post the other day spoke of our most recent four legged addition to our family. She is loved and loves us right back. Masha was not, however, the first in this role. When my children were a very young 1 and 4, we spent an afternoon at the local animal shelter, "just looking". We anticipated getting a dog before moving into our new home, which was a bit far from town. With the hopes of finding a kid friendly, patient, housebroken golden retriever (yeah right!), we crossed our fingers on the way there.
Much to our surprise, we found exactly what we wanted, and just looking became an full fledged adoption process. The people who had brought the dog in were still at the shelter, and thrilled to the idea of a young family adopting her. They even offered to pay for the adoption. It was a right-place-at-the-right-time, meant-to-be kind of experience. The kid friendly, patient, and housebroken golden retriever bonded with us all immediately. As the kids pulled her ears, climbed on and over her, and hugged the breath right out of her, she responded with a wagging tail and ear to ear licks with a very wet tongue.
Our trip home was eye opening to her real personality, however. The kid friendly, patient, and housebroken golden retriever had a more serious side.....she was also very protective! Sitting in my lap, all 60 some pounds of her, she reacted with growls and barking as we passed pedestrians that she felt were just too close to her new families car. Each time she sent warning barks in the walkers direction, I giggled, then she licked my face, and felt compelled to repeat the performance. It was a fun ride home, and we knew there was no turning back. Tiger, now renamed Tigger, was home. She was family.
After moving to our new home in the country, Tigger had the opportunity to prove herself 100 times over. There is one day, though, that none of us, especially my daughter, will never forget. A neighborhood dog, who had a reputation for not being very nice, was running free. Unbeknownst to us, this happened while my kids were playing outside. Thankfully Tigger was also in our yard. As the questionable canine attempted to approach Katie, Tigger placed herself between the other dog and my daughter. Her behavior was instinctive, changing direction and body placement, countering the dog's movements. The commotion warned both us and the trespassing dog, that she would not allow it to get any closer. In the end,Tigger scared off the other dog, and prevented what could have been a truly bad situation. Katie talks of that day still, and no doubt will for a very long time.
Sadly, Katie was the one to return home from school one day to find Tigger laying motionless in the living room. Tigger had passed on, and lay still guarding the front door. Our precious friend had been with us 12 years, and had more than earned her keep. She earned our love, our respect, and our devotion even as she became ill in her later years. Amazingly, she had also been the hero of one very grateful young girl.
In our hearts we believe, all dogs go to heaven.
A warm country hug to all,