I’d like to think those other dogs are around my family because of me. I was the first dog they had. My biological father was a black lab, and my biological mother was a cocker spaniel. When I first joined my family, I was three years old, and the kids were 11, eight and six. I cuddled with them, let them brush my fur, and happily ate the dog food they put in front of me. I was happy to protect them when they went for walks and played games whenever they wanted. Sometimes I ended up in their beds when they were sleeping, and they didn’t seem to mind. I was used to being a part of a family like theirs, and it didn’t take me long to get used to them after they adopted me from the Animal Humane Society, a wonderful place that helps pets find new homes.
After I passed away, my family thought they were doing me a favor by waiting a respectable amount of time of six months before getting another dog. The kids thought Mom and Dad needed a dog because Laura, the oldest kid, was going to go off to college and the other two weren’t far from being really grown up too. The kids didn’t want Mom and Dad to get lonely! I didn’t mind when they decided to adopt Lila, a two-year old, beautiful black lab retriever mix. I knew they wanted another dog because they missed me and my love. Someone found Lila wandering around in the northern woods of Minnesota covered with 17 wood ticks. My family found her at the same Animal Humane Society where they found me.
It took a long time for Lila to soften up to the whole family because she was used to living on her own. We don’t know if she got lost or was abandoned. I didn’t blame her for wanting to stay away from everyone. After moving in with her new family, she enjoyed digging holes underneath bushes and hiding from the sun. Lila seemed so brave when she stayed outside during storms. After being stuck in the house over winter, she finally softened up to the family. It took about a year before she fell in love with them, realized she found her home and wasn’t going to have to go anywhere else. She got comfortable and figured out to stay inside during storms and watch over the family.
When Matt, the youngest kid, went off to college and got an apartment, it wasn’t long before he found Bauer, a beagle and blue heeler mix, and adopted him. Bauer was around three years old when he moved in with Matt. When Mom and Dad went to visit them, Bauer was friendly and seemed like he knew the visitors were Matt’s Mom and Dad. Later that night, when Dad walked by Matt’s bedroom, Bauer growled and Mom and Dad were worried Bauer was mean. The next day, when Mom held Bauer in her lap and moved his legs because his paws were digging into her shirt, Bauer growled. Mom growled back.
A few months later, when Matt and Bauer came home for a visit, Bauer acted like he was king of the castle. Bauer scared Lila, a dog three times his size. Bauer growled at Lila every time she got close to Matt. That growl caused Lila’s fur to fall to the floor. If it was possible for the floor to make a sound each time a piece of fur fell, it would have sounded like a steady drum beating. Mom tried to keep up with the fur piles, but they bunched up and rolled along like dust bunnies. By the time Matt and Bauer’s visit was over, Mom was thankful Lila hadn’t gone completely bald. Now that Bauer has been in the family for a few years, and when he comes to visit, there isn’t as much growling. Either Bauer got used to them or it could be because Lila stood up for herself a few times by growling back and showing her teeth.
Just as the two of them were getting used to each other, Laura and her hubby got Kona, a German shepherd puppy. Kona and Lila got along from the start even though Lila tends to keep a respectful distance when she doesn’t want to play. Thankfully, Kona is learning how to adjust to Lila’s moods. The first time Kona and Bauer met, they got along very well. Bauer played with Kona like they were long lost friends. They wrestled, ran around the sofa and stood staring at each other in puppy play fashion with their legs pointing towards each other. It seemed like Bauer was happy to be with a dog his size. The next time they met, Kona wasn’t Bauer’s size, and Bauer wasn’t interested in playing with Kona any more.
Sometimes Mom thinks back to the time when I first started to live with them. It was a few years after they moved into their house with the white tile kitchen floor. Mom sweeps the broom, then uses a Swiffer, if the broom didn’t do the job. She wonders if it was dumb to get two black dogs when they live in a house with a white floor. Now when Kona and Bauer stop by, brown and gray furs fall waiting to get swept up as well. Mom can get frustrated and thinks about getting a different floor but sometimes realizes it’s practical to see where the dogs leave dirt.
Mom must not mind the mess too much. If she did, these other dogs wouldn’t be around the white tile floor. I like to think Lila, Bauer and Kona are there because I did a good job of training my family. It looks like the love I gave stayed and it’s being handed down every day.
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras