Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks be unto Dog

Watching TV this morning, waiting for the sun to come up before getting out of bed, I realized that any alien civilization viewing our television feed would think we are about to celebrate a holiday called Black Friday.  The dogs wanted to go out, whether it was light or not, so we got up and performed the morning feeding ritual.

I have a lot to be thankful for, good family and friends, good health, and a solid middle class life, but since this blog is primarily about dogs, I'm going to share the dogs that have shared my life and a little bit of what I've learned from each of them.

I don't really know where to start, so I guess I'll go in a rough chronological order.
I'm thankful that she was with me when Bert died.
She taught me that a second hand dog is second
to none in terms of their loyalty and bond.
Sasha, my first shepherd, taught me the value of
having a female shepherd as a second in command.

Vito taught me that a dog doesn't have to be
well-behaved to be a great dog.  Letting a dog
be a dog, rather than a four legged human, was
a valuable lesson to learn.

I'm thankful that Jack came into our lives although it happened
as a result of a tragedy. We lost a dog, Onyx, who escaped when
a gate was left open, teaching me the importance of vigilance.
While searching shelters, we found Jack.

Jack taught us all about rottweilers, and saved many rotties
as a result when we began rescue work.

Gyspy, where do I start?  I'm thankful for her fierce loyalty,
her exclusive devotion to me, and to her job as Chief of Staff.
She never approved of my rescue work, but damn it, she took
it upon herself to keep them in line.
Cabell taught us the beauty of mutts.  I'm thankful that he
was the opposite of Gypsy's personality but was also her best
I'm thankful for Cabell's sweet, loving personality,
and his tolerance and patience.

Maggie wasn't our dog, but she was our first foster.  I'm thankful to her, and the hundreds of dogs
who followed her must be too.  She taught us that it is possible to love a dog and to give it up to
an adopter who will love the dog just as much.  I'm also thankful to Maggie for giving us Bremo.

Bremo, I'm thankful for knowing that he
never knew hunger, fear, or abandonment.
I'm thankful that Bremo spent his entire life with us. He may
have been the ugly duckling of his litter, but he had a beautiful
heart and soul.

I'm thankful to Zachary for choosing
Clay over me right from the start and
being loyal to Clay right to the end.
Although he had nearly every German
Shepherd medical issue known to science,
I'm thankful that his temperament and
personality made it possible to treat him.

I'm thankful to Molly for serving as our
kennel manager for several years. She
would talk to incoming fosters and put
them at ease, reassuring them that we could
be trusted and everything would be all right.

And I'll be forever thankful to Molly for making it known that
she wanted to stay with us and for overcoming her fear of all
things indoors and man made to make that possible.
Emmylou taught us the grace and beauty of senior dogs.

Emmylou, with her bright eyes, happy face, and
her need to talk, taught me how to speak shepherd.

In his role as my personal
trainer, Sparky has walked
50 pounds off of me and fixed
my back problems and probably
a number of other health issues.
I'm thankful to Sparky for teaching me the joy
of movement, for getting me up off my butt
and out on the trails.

Trooper:  I'm thankful that he saves us daily from intruders, trucks, and large birds.
I'm thankful to Trooper for sharing his sweet and tender side with us but no one else.
I'm thankful to Trooper for dealing with foster dogs much as Molly did, both checking them out
and letting them know that they were safe with us.  And I'm thankful to Trooper for saving Maya, giving her a reason to stay at home when she returned to us.  Trooper's stock will always be high.

I'm thankful to Vince and for Vince.
Vince teaches us to be selective in our friends
but to trust fully those few who make the cut.

I'm thankful to Gigi for her quiet grace and elegance
amid the chaos that often rules our lives.

Gigi is my girlfriend and she makes me thankful that I don't
have a human one.

Max may or may not be "our" dog,
but it's looking more likely that he is.

I'm thankful to Max for not hating me when I've been short
with him and frustrated by his behavior.  Max has taught me
to try to understand, accommodate, and work around that which
can not be understood or fixed.

Theo the Great.  I'm thankful to his prior owners and
even the breeder who gave this dog a solid foundation
of good genetics and good training.
I'm thankful that he's not a high strung, neurotic, pain-in-the-
ass shepherd.  It's nice to have a handsome, easy-going dog
that I can show off.

And then there's Maya. My little girl, who, like Gigi, makes me thankful to be gay and not have a human one. Like Vito, she teaches me to let a dog be a dog, and not to expect human behavior from a dog.  Like Gypsy and Sasha she teaches me devotion.  Like Molly and Trooper she helps with the foster dogs.  She is my every dog.

She reminds me constantly that good behavior is only one aspect, maybe a small one, of being a good dog. I'm thankful that she decided to live with us and trust us. I'm thankful for that look she gives me, even if it is manipulative.

I'm also grateful for and thankful to all the foster dogs who have shared
a piece of their lives with us.  I'm sorry for those we couldn't save.
I'm happy for all those who went on to lead happy lives with a new family.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading this post and am so thankful to you for sharing it and for saving all these dogs. I got so teary when I first started and then starting on Trooper's write up I was giggling. You are an amazing person. Thank you.

patti h said...

What a wonderful post! I'm late to reading it, but very enjoyable. I've only had two dogs and have learned very different things from each. You've given and received so much!! I so enjoy reading about all your adventures. Thank you!!