|First night at home.|
They are adopted when they are puppies, endearing us to them in a moments notice. Their puppy-down-fur so soft that if you give them a bath it puffs up like a cotton ball. Using shampoo with a fragrance that resembles baby powder, they can, for a few hours, carry that sweet smell that reminds you of a baby. You just want to plant your nose in the middle of it and take a deep breath. Kinda weird, but you'll know what I mean if you've ever done this.
|Negotiating the step to the back deck|
So proud, we take them for walks around the yard to introduce them to their new habitat. We show them areas that are just for them, and stand out there for hours waiting for them to "go." Praises and treats follow, hoping to reinforce that positive behavior. As they grow and their stamina increases, you take them for walks around the neighborhood, proudly holding the leash, making the statement that "hey everyone, look! This is MY dog." Yes, pride rushes over us when all the kids come running over to make friends and suddenly your new pup is the celebrity of the day. And when they are yet a bit older, you venture to the doggie park, where they run, fast and far, wind blowing in their face, in whatever direction they want, no leash, no restrictions, just free to make friends and sniff every other dog that comes near. Socialization is interesting especially when your pup is the smallest and could be lunch for the larger beasts that roam the park. But somehow they get along.
|Sara getting some 'Puppy Love'|
|Chris and his best friend|
And there's something to be said of the bonding that happens between children and puppies. It's as if there's a new baby, but different. They have to be cared for constantly, and of course, it always starts out with children promising they will do everything for the puppy. Responsibility is really big and often underestimated and will always set them up for overpromising and underdelivering. But somehow everyone finds their small way to contribute and it all works out. Because their relationship with the dog becomes what is important. Seeing the smile on your child face as they cuddle with and love their new companion is priceless. The inner joy it brings just knowing that when they come home each day, he'll be there waiting for them with wagging tail, tongue hanging out and often jumping incessantly until they are lifted off the floor up to where the view is eye to eye. Totally unconditional love. Resting in their arms, the feeling-loved pet moves into a state of contentment, after waiting all day for just this moment. I often wonder does time really matter to them? It can matter to us.
|Getting a drink|
Especially when the next thing you know, nearly 12 years goes by and the puppy that was completely adorable as it rested in the grasp of your hand or on the nape of your neck as you slept, has had time all of a sudden quantum leap forward and caught up with him. Or maybe we've somehow gone through a time warp and 12 years seems like 12 days. While we've aged, in our minds eye, our sweet canine companion never seems to. He'll always be our puppy. But reality catches us off guard when we learn an illness has altered his health or some inoperable situation emerges and there's nothing we can do. All of a sudden, we wish time would stand still. The thought of letting that little part of the family go, is a thought we'd rather not think about. It just seems a bit too unreal. We don't want to think about life without him. It's been a precious life for sure.
|Loved that trench!|
So, you start to think of the fun things and the good times and the amazing memories you've had together. Like the time when he was a puppy and would run around the trenches of the flower bed like it was a race track. Or when he drank out of the garden hose because it was a hot day outside or chewed on woodchips from the flower bed. Or the time when, at the doggie park, he met a dog that looked just like him. Amazed that they could be siblings.
|Love the cold and the snow - energized by it!|
|King of the snow hill|
|One of my favorite pics...|
Or how about the time roller blading with him running alongside only to have him take off after something causing the skates to come out from under. Nothing but sidewalk. Or remember how he loved the snow and would run from one side of the drive way to the other when we were shovelling or snow-blowing? The cold never seemed to matter. Or how he would run down the sidewalk through the path of snow jumping like a little rabbit. How about the fun he had running, hopping through tall grass. It would make us laugh every time.
|Dominic could do anything...|
|Chris was always training him to do something|
|Truly was a cuddle dog|
|Convincing him to pose for the picture was not easy....|
Or how about the time we put bows and wrapping paper on him at Christmas time? I'm sure he wasn't really amused, but he played along anyway. Or how about the stuffed toys, like the cow or the hedgehog that he would love to chase if you threw it. The squeeker would always be the first thing to go. Remember trying to teach him to roll over? He just never quite got it. It was only a half-roll, but he got treats just for trying.
|He really was a good sport...|
|The joy of carrying a big stick|
We used to love when he came home from the groomers because they always had a special scarf around his neck. Looked so cute. Or how about when you picked him up, he would lay his head on your shoulder. Completely cuddly and huggable. I remember laying sideways on the couch and he always jumped up to curled up behind me, always snuggling close enough to feel how warm he was.
|His crate was way bigger...but he soon grew into it|
|One of our favorite things to do...hike Lake County|
|Constant companion, love that dog...|
|How do I get down???|
Pets are a part of the family. They are loved and they love you back. They are obedient because they want to please you. They roam with the pack no matter where you go. The heart gets attached and life experiences happen. All too quickly, and then it's over.
It's quite amazing the life we've had with this dog. Dominic. I sure hope that all dogs really do go to heaven. I hope he loves it there.