This is an article I wrote previously, when I was between my first bichon Patsy and my girls now, Gracie and Lucie. I have found no matter how many dogs you know, none are alike. Dogs are like snowflakes, only much larger and warmer. This may seem like a tribute, (and probably is) but it is my accounting of her presence in my life, what I appreciated the most.
Who am I now, without a living dog, present in my life? I find that I do not have the excited frenzy of the possibility of meeting new people, meeting strangers that would become friends and the trust of Patsy, my dog. Patsy lived to give love to people. She has a heart bigger than her body, and she taught me more about love than I previously knew.
Patsy liked me to hold her, so she could be eye level with these new companions. She didn’t understand as much English as me, but she liked to look people in the eye when they talked, to prove that she was listening. When Patsy and I had the Vet out for a sick horse, I would be talking to the vet, and Patsy would start whining. I would pick her up so she could see our faces, and she would be immediately engrossed in the conversation. She knew those horses were HER horses, and that she was responsible for seeing that they were healthy and doing well.
Patsy, my fifteen-pound Bichon attacked a coyote that came into the horse’s pen. The coyote bit Patsy, but she didn’t let that deter her chase. She ran into the house wild-eyed, and then continued her pursuit. At the end of my property, we both threw derogatory terms to those hellions as they ran away. I picked Patsy up to find her wet with a warm sticky liquid. Inside the house, I cleaned out 4 puncture teeth wounds on the right side of her butt. Heroically, she wasn’t even limping.
I had cat food, and science diet small bites dog food on hand if nothing I cooked matched her needs. One night I had crab legs, something I really love, and gave Patsy the meat out of one of the legs (yes, real crab legs!) she looked at it, sniffed disdainfully, and marched off to crunch on cat food loudly, This wasn’t the last time I got “dished” on by the food critic I lived with. At times, I would have as many as 4 food choices in front of her, and she would look up at me quizzically, asking: “Is this all you can come up with tonight?”
When I was out of town, Patsy stayed with her parents or doggy daycare, and ate regular dog food. I was amazed at what she would eat. Patsy was a competitive eater with other dogs: if they ate something, she would too usually. Many times at another’s house, Patsy would boldly walk up and eat the host’s dog food out of the dish. It was one of her “habits” that quickly made other dogs wonder if she too, was a dog, or if she had “super powers”.
Another trick she used was to get on a chair and settle in, comfortable and at home. Dogs that weren’t allowed on the furniture were like, “No way! I live here & I can’t get on that chair, on the couch, anywhere! She must have super powers. Because they aren’t upset with her!” Another purpose that would solve is that with bigger dogs, Patsy in her 15 lb. body would be able to look at them eye-to-eye. This set some dog’s off-center, and allowed her to keep that “she might not be a dog” mystic.
I meet Patsy’s needs, from having meat cooked to her specifications for dinner, to going for a walk every day, having marrow bones to chew on after dinner, and scooping the marrow out for her because she couldn’t get it herself. I tried hard to please Patsy. It is a true love affair, because I did these things without resentment, knowing that it was a small price to pay to have such love and happiness in my life.
Patsy never ate pork, meat cooked more than medium rare, any type of sea fish. I cooked a fair amount of chicken, porterhouse steaks, and usually had lunchmeat and turkey breast available if I didn’t have the time to cook. She would whine and act like she “wanted something” and some nights I even succumbed and went to the grocery store to satisfy her needs.
Patsy had a really long body with short legs. I had to really search to find a coat for her. I finally found one at a horse show that was velvet and fake fur and had the buckles on it like a horse blanket. It was gorgeous but she hated all clothes and she wanted them off as soon as possible.
I brought Patsy into a date’s house, and she peed all over the carpet. Like a parent she was protective of me, no one else was good enough for me. The next time I was at this man’s house, I left Patsy in the car. I had brought Patsy’s coat, so though it was December, I knew she would be warm. I had planned to be there just a few minutes, but I feel asleep. The next morning I found one furious dog in my car. Patsy was so angry she wouldn’t even look at me. Patsy stayed mad at me for an entire week. The doggy day care even pulled me aside to ask, “What is up with Patsy? She seems depressed.”
I have had clients tell me that it hurt so much to lose their dog that they were never going thru it again. When many clients get older, they don’t want to make the effort it takes to have a dog. They say they want to travel, that they took care of kids and dogs and stuff their whole lives, and need a break. My response to this is “do you need a break from love too?” No one can love you as much and in the same way as your own dog. Today there are doggy day care’s, friends with dogs who will watch yours, dog walkers, pet sitters, and numerous facilities that can share the burden of responsibility of pet ownership. All dogs come with a purpose and need a job. The next dog that steps into your life may have an entire different place in your household than your prior one did. Trust that the Universe knows what is best for your future, and that love always finds a way.
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This was lovely. There is nothing that can compare to the unconditional love a dog can give if we let it.
We had Sugar to the age of fifteen then I waited almost seven years before I could bear to get another dog which was Tucker, a rescue of sorts. He died in my arms at 7 months old. The devastation actually spurred me to get another dog. I lost Tucker December 28 and January 9th a litter was born containing a little pup that would literally save my life. Kirby has been the inspiration of so many new amazing events. He’s just a dog but sometimes I could swear he knows what I’m thinking or feeling.