Kathy Winkler Studio
THE DOGS IN OUR LIVES
I read recently in a Facebook posting by a veterinarian who had been called to put a family dog to sleep. He gave family members privacy to say their goodbyes, starting with the youngest member of the family who was a six-year-old boy. The little boy did not spend much time saying goodbye to his friend, something that concerned the vet.
The vet thought maybe the little boy did not know the gravity of what was about to happen, so he asked him if he had anything else to say about the family dog. To boil it down, the boy said “people come into this world learning to like and then love people. Dogs come into this world already knowing how to do that so they don’t have to stay as long.” I thought that was beautiful.
We have had many dogs over the course of our lives. I had three dogs growing up. At age 6, my dad gave me a mix puppy I named Pat, who passed from distemper at six weeks. Then, at age 10, my dad gave me a beautiful Chow puppy I named Lucky (not so lucky) that went on to become a guard dog because living up to a Chow’s breed, they like one family member and dismiss the rest. Not a particularly good breed for a family. Then came Laddie (I was in love with Lassie books) at age 13. He was half rough haired collie and half German Shepherd. He passed from heartworms at 3 and ½. It was an age when not much was known about them and when you did discover it, by then it was too late.
During my married life, we had Toby (border collie/sheltie mix), Pooh Bar (Great Pyrenees who I showed), Dusty (I found at 5 weeks of age abandoned in an open field where I was riding horses with 4 other people), Duchess (a gorgeous 2-year-old yellow lab given to me by my secretary), Crockett (a 2-year-old beautiful buff husky/shepherd given up by a family), Amber (an 18-month Belgium sheepdog within hours of being euthanized), Maxwell (3-year-old black standard poodle from a custody case), Grizzly Bear (4-year-old 125 lb. red Rottweiler/Chow I called Red Man) who had been out 3 times already and returned. Then along came Andy (18-month-old black labradoodle who had been on death row). We were his 5th family. People got rid of him because he nipped (the hunting dog part of ‘Labrador retrievers’ are mouthy. He was an amazing dog. Now, we are down to two dogs, as I mentioned in the beginning.
The point of telling you all of this is we never knew what we were going to get, except for the Great Pyrenees. We got phone calls from desperate rescue groups, people who referred other people to us. So, we took whatever walked through the front door, which included 3 cats at separate intervals, and just told them all they have to get along. Each one of these dogs brought lessons to us for us to learn. They loved us no matter what. Some of them had been abused and horribly rejected, but they all showed us how resilient they were and trusted us.
We will discuss each of these dogs in a series of Blogs. The first is today and starts with Toby. I have attached several photos of Toby who was with us for 12 years. We purchased Toby within 6 weeks of our arrival in Omaha, NE for our first Air Force duty assignment at Offutt AFB. These pictures show Toby in various situations in the Bellevue, NE/Offutt AFB area. Since Toby was our first “child” we wondered how he would react to Stephanie when we brought her home. He began by sleeping under her crib. He was a nursemaid and protector. His passing hit all of us very hard.