For the Love of Dogs

Katie’s face is totally white now.

It’s an interesting contrast with the rest of her body, which is red. Katie, as some long-time readers may recall, is a spaniel mix. She’ll be 13 in the spring.
She’s not nearly as spry as she used to be, and sometimes has a little trouble getting up when she’s lying down But when she has to do her business, she still rushes out the back door and runs into the yard. Oh, and she doesn’t hear so well any more.
Katie is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many over my fairly long life. I had to drive her to the vet the other day to get her nails clipped and she sat in the front seat with me, looking up at me with trust in her big brown eyes, although she seemed to know we weren’t going down to Cane River below Front Street, where she likes to pick up the dozens of amazing dog smells.

Mary and I hope Katie will be with us for a while. She’s the oldest dog we’ve had, in fact. We had a wonderful little rat terrier, my favorite dog of all time. But she had rare brain lesions and she died before her fifth birthday. Her name was Doodie Claire, as in “Well, I do declare.” Get it?

Before Doodie, we had lost Belle, a great pointer mix a few years ago. She had another rare condition, a spinal problem that first took the use of her back legs and then made her lose control of her bowels. She was only about six years old.

I remember when Belle was younger and we lived in the New Orleans area, Mary and I would sleep in on Saturday mornings. And that was when we invited Belle to jump in bed for a petting session. I’d say, “Belle, come,” and she’d easily leap into the bed and flop down on one of us, for a wonderful bonding session.

Katie is not the only canine resident of our house now, not by any means. We have Mosby, another little rat terrier. We figure he’s about nine and he has problems too. He has stenosis of his wind pipe and perhaps congestive heart failure. But with luck, the vet says he could still be around for a while.

When we got Mosby from the pound here he looked like a refugee from a doggie concentration camp. You could not only see his ribs, but his hip bones were plainly visible. He’s also suffered abuse and it took him a couple of years before he could relax around us. Now, every time I go into my carpeted study, he thinks it’s play time

And finally there’s Bea, a beagle-basset mix about six years old. I’d named her Bea for being short for beagle, but Mary has drawn out her name to Beatrice. Mary rescued her from the country north of Baton Rouge. This dog was also abused. Even now if you approach her rapidly she cowers down on the ground.

She still whines a lot, too, but she’s a fairly happy dog and loves to stay out in the yard for hours, chasing squirrels and trying to dig up pocket gophers. Every couple of hours she will scratch at the back door to come in and get water, then it’s back to the chase.

It’s amazing how dogs have unique personalities, just like people. But they’re all alike in their need for love, care and attention.

And isn’t it great to be able to meet those needs?

4 thoughts on “For the Love of Dogs

  1. I enjoy your stories an look forward to your article every week. Dogs are truly heaven sent an it is true they fill a void like no other. When they are sick, we are sick. When they die, its like a human family member has died. For they are truly a part of our family. Oh the many stories an secrets I shared with Boe, Poochie, Beethoven, Sugar,Rex, an Cocoa!!

    • Dear All Dogs…
      Wouldn’t it be great if our dogs do go to heaven and are waiting for us there? My priest tells me he thinks they do. When — and if I get there — I wouldn’t know which one to grab and pet first. But I suspect it might be Doodie Claire. Thanks for the kind words. Joe.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Joe. There’s a reason why “dogs are man’s best friend.” I am convinced they were created to fill a void that many of us have in our lives. There is medical evidence they extend the life of those who care for them, reduce the severity of childhood asthma, and help both adults and children deal with emotional problems. Why? It’s easy to understand, if you’ve ever cared for one. I read evidence of this in your story. We become so attached that it is heart-retching when we loose them. But adding the endless hours of love and satisfaction they give us, in the end it is all worthwhile.

    • You’re right Ron. I still miss Doodie Claire every day, though it’s been several years. Thanks for the note. JD

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