You are never given the dog you want, but the dog you need.

A Good Dog Never Dies

Have you ever had that one pet that utterly stole your heart for years to come? Or maybe multiple ones that have done so? How did this furry creature manage to worm themselves into your heart so completely?

Was it because they were smart, loyal, happy-go-lucky, doofy but sweet, or something else entirely? What about them makes you look back on your memories of them and give them a fond smile?

I’ll share a few of those memories with you. The first one goes out to Ginger, the first dog that my brother and I grew up with (and I think the first one my parents owned? Not sure…). Ginger wasn’t a big or small dog, just a perfect in between size. She was a Samoyed mix and had the sweetest smile you could imagine and loved to put her paw on your leg, hand, head, whatever it took for you to take her paw and rub it/shake hands with her. She was, by far, one of the sweetest dog’s that I have ever had the pleasure of encountering.

Whether it meant riding in the wheelbarrow down to the shed to get wood (or back up and balancing precariously on said wood), Ginger loved to be near her people. She was, without a doubt, my dad’s dog. She would ride next to him when he was driving the dozer around, drink beer from the dish he poured for her (she actually would get quite frustrated if he didn’t share) or just wander around the property with him.

Without a doubt though, the memories of that sweet smiling face, black rimmed eyes and insistent paw never fail to make me smile. She is the reason that, no matter if I know the dog or not, the second I see a Samoyed, I fall in love all over again.

Missy was the next, that big oaf of a dog that she was. A Hienz 57 mix of Rottie, German Shepherd, Black Lab, and whatever else got thrown into the mix, Missy was always on the lookout for entertainment.

My most fond memory of her is a rather comical one. I remember playing outside when I was about 10 or so maybe and seeing Missy come trotting out of the woods. We never really tied her or Ginger to one spot, except for at night, so each knew the land and the boundaries of where one property ended and where the next began.

On this day, Missy came trotting out of the woods looking oh so pleased with herself, growling happily in that doofy way she had, a grin nearly splitting her face as she drew closer. Only then did we notice something a little odd.

She was carrying an object in her mouth.

Now, I’m aware that this is the point where many people would go “Awww! She rescued something! How sweet…”

To this, I laugh. You silly people thinking Missy rescued something. Oh no. Not our loveable oaf. This object was no rescued kitten or lost duckling in need of a loving caretaker, or anything of the sort. No, Missy rescued different things than that…

Now, we were all perplexed as to what in the world she had found and brought back. But, in typical Missy fashion, she wanted to play “keep away” and she excelled at it.

Finally, we caught her and managed to pry said object from the jaws of death as she tried to gulp down her stolen treasure. What was she so proud of? She had managed to snag a cooked chicken breast off of one of our distant neighbors’ grills. All while he was watching.

My dad asked him later if he knew about it, and he laughed as he said he watched the whole thing. He said she just looked so darn proud of herself for finding the source of the smell as she visited that he couldn’t tell her no. Such was life with Missy, the chicken breast thief.

These are just my first two favorite memories of some of the dogs we’ve owned over the years. What are some of yours? What memories help keep your pet alive in spirit to you, or what memories make you cherish the pet you do have?

A good dog never dies. He always stays. He walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near. His head is within our hand in his old way.

-Mary Carolyn Davies

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4 responses

  1. Sounds like you love our four-legged friends a lot, too. We can’t imagine life without our dogs. They are the best. If only they could talk and live longer.

    February 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

  2. Thank you for that–for your memories and the poem.

    February 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm

  3. Great story about the chicken. When I was a kid we had a dog who would come home with toys he found from who knows where.

    February 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

  4. itsa5doglife

    Love your story. Animals add alot to our lives. I can’t imagine life without them – even when I can’t find a place to sit in my own living room. It’s like they know it’s time to watch TV so they race in there to get a chair before us and then pretend to be sound asleep when we go to move them.

    February 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

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