Our family dog Cleo died last week. A small Pomeranian, she had that cute little face and beautiful reddish hair. She has been my son’s dog for years and he has been sharing the little dog with me as she aged to somewhere around 15 years old.
She really became my pal. Morning and night, we would stroll in the yard together and she followed me around the house and sat by my chair in the evenings.
I’ve had many dogs… larger Collies, Labs and one German Shephard. These male dogs lived outside the house and when I was a youngster one border collie was a constant ranch hunting companion. He was fearless and would tackle a badger face to face and win the fight, so brave and smart.
But, I never had a 10-pound female house pet. She was very special.
Everyday when I drive to work, I see dozens of people walking their dogs, sometimes two or three strolling along with large and small dogs of every size and breed.
I can remember when I was in the old U.S.S.R. asking about why there were no dogs. I was simply told by our guide, “We don’t need them.”
I’ve been in “dog mourning” all week missing the little lady of our household. Gerri vacuumed up the last remnant of her reddish hair from the carpet Sunday by my desk. I think it makes me feel better to write about her and to share my sorrow with all pet owners who have lost their furry friends.
The sign in the Parker Animal Hospital reads, “Love Comes Wrapped in Fur.”
Pet owners will relate to my grief and my sister-in-law mourned her parrot’s death for weeks. Birds live a long time and she had shared her life with Ripley for decades. My neighbor Chet has a lovely cat and lost his dog a few years ago.
I shared my loss with a longtime friend and fellow newspaper publisher who lives in Sibley, Iowa and publishes a large weekly newspaper out of Sheldon. He and his wife Connie have a little dog named Duffer. We have been houseguests at their home several times and I’ve made friends with their little guy. I sent a message to Peter about the death of Cleo and he wrote a column about my dog related to his dog. Pet owners may find it heartwarming.
Dog spelled backward
by Peter Wagner. NW’Iowa Review
A publisher friend, living in another state, sent me an email Tuesday reporting the death of his dog.
“Dear Peter,” he wrote, “my little dog Cleo died on my lap last night. She has been my constant companion for many years. She was always there greeting me at the door, resting beside my chair or sitting by my desk when I’m working on my columns. She was 15 years old and in failing health, but I’m really saddened by her passing. She was just a dog, but I really loved her little soul and feel I’ve lost a true friend. Take good care of your dog Duffer. Dogs are not just pets, they’re family.”
The email couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Just the evening before, about the time we were ready to go to bed, Connie and I had experienced a troublesome change in Duffer, our 11-year old dog. For some reason unknown to me, he has started occasionally relieving himself in dark places around our house. The only way we eventually became aware of each misdeed is that he then attempts to hide in places where we can’t physically reach him. Places like under the big, heavy, king-size bed in our bedroom.
I think it is mainly an age and communications problem. Both of us are getting older. But it is tiring. He has been good about always going outside, or patiently waiting, for years. When we have him overnight at the lake he always tells me when he needs to go out. He simply sets himself down in front of me and stares deeply into my eyes until I reach for his leash.
Still, every time we do go out, at either his suggestion or mine, he always does his duty both ways. We’ve actually come to both enjoy those early mornings, noon hour, late afternoon and bedtime walk. We follow a two-block circular path that takes us, and his bag of refuse, right past the facility dumpster minutes before reaching our unit door.
I’ve tried to figure out what is different at home. My only guess is that the house is so much larger Duffer can’t as easily get my attention. I suspect however, it is also that from the beginning of our lake visits Duffer has been taught to control himself there. (Wagner’s have a condo at Lake Okoboji, home of the famous university.)
Connie and I know a family that has taught their dog to hang his paw on a bell hanging from the door when he wants to go out. Other pet owners tell me their dog barks when he has to go outside. Duffer only barks when he is finished and wants to come inside. I’ve asked him while unhooking his rope from his collar, why he can only bark to come in and never to go out?
Duffer is what we used to call a mongrel and what today is called a designer dog. He is half Maltese and half Yorkie. We had him bred that way because we loved the Maltese we had before him. But we didn’t want to burden the new pup with constant comparisons to his predecessor.
We expected Duffer to be a lapdog. Both his parents were very small. But Duffer, who was given that name because we live on a golf course, grew to a hefty 15 pounds.
Still, he loves human contact and loves to sit bedside Connie in one of our big overstuffed chairs. He adores his humans and is most happy when he can stare you in the face, lick your hand express his love and be loved.
What more can a person ask of a dog? Well, maybe that he wouldn’t occasionally poop in the house. Connie and I got so upset with his breaking the rules Monday we considered possibly finding him somewhere else to live.
But I couldn’t do that any more than I could put a relative in the nursing home simply because they couldn’t feed or otherwise take care of themselves.
Connie and I discussed our options agreed we’d always close the doors to certain less used rooms, watch the Duffer more closely and take him outside more often. Those were moves that would better protect our home but would be a major change for Duffer. I went to bed dejected and a little heartbroken.
Then on Tuesday morning, I got my friend’s email. It was like God was using my friend to remind me of the joy, loyalty and companionship Duffer has provided the family almost from the day we first moved into our new home. We have, I read into the email, an obligation to this gift from God.
I’m thinking our Creator also has a special place in His heart for the canine population. Maybe that is why dog spelled backward is God.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |