New Dogs

Everyone has different ways of dealing with loss and grief. It doesn’t seem to make a difference whether the loss is unexpected or anticipated. A neighbor with a large breed dog, with a life expectancy of 8 to 10 years, started looking at other breeds when her big guy reached 9. When he did die, she had a new dog, a 10-pounder, within a week.

Another neighbor lost her retriever mix suddenly at the age of 11. He was gone in a day. She also had a new dog within a week, another retriever mix she spotted at the local shelter. That impulse proved unfortunate and she ended up returning him to the shelter a few months later. She now has a little “poo” mix.

I guess during our dogs’ lifetimes we forget that we are aging the same number of years. The perfect dog when we’re 30 and running the agility floor, is probably not the best fit when we’re 55 and considering knee surgery.

Good Night, Sweet Friend

My beautiful Tag died this year. I know everyone here has stories about one special pet in their life…my heart pet some people say. Each animal coming into our lives teaches us their own unique lessons.  Tag showed me how nature and nurture interact.

He had a difficult experience in his first home but it was his fundamental nature, the genetics, that shaped how he reacted to that bad experience.  

Tag was by nature worrier. His first home taught him that there were good reasons to worry. Another dog; a different breed; a few months older;  and the scary stuff might not have been so scary. I think, though, that even with the most dog-savvy home, Tag would have always been a little tentative about new experiences. A cautious canine.

Thank goodness that Tag was produced by a “good breeder”, someone who accepts responsibility for all of the creatures she puts out in the world. As a result, she reclaimed Tag when the problems became known. Tag came to live with me at two years of age. I could tell at our first meeting that he would be a “project”. I had no idea, though, that the project would go on for nine years. Tag eventually learned to trust me and believed that I could keep him safe to the extent that he was loath to leave my side. I used to joke that Tag believed he and I were con-joined twins.

Tag had good dog skills s he taught me that I could trust his judgment. People often marveled at how calm their supposedly reactive dog behaved with Tag. He was also the perfect role model when I brought Onchu home as a puppy.  An animal communicator said Tag had a gentle spirit.

Tag’s breeder told me that the opportunity to bond with me was the greatest gift I could have given Tag.  That’s what gave me peace as I said farewell to my sweet, sweet friend.