For most of us across the country, it’s been a long, long winter. And COLD. In addition to us humans being locked up inside, our dogs also suffered the same fate. So in comes the guilt – why didn’t I make more time to walk my dogs?
We finally have welcomed spring here in Nashville and thankfully my dogs do NOT hold a grudge. This photo was taken a week ago while walking my crazy golden retriever Rudolph, and my beloved husky Luna. I stopped to try and add some exercises into my walk (no one could see me so I wouldn’t be too embarrassed) and Rudolph literally jumped up on the nearby picnic table he was so excited. The sheer pleasure of being on a walk, being able to jump up and down without being scolded too much (well I did encourage him to get down) was awesome to watch. It’s one of the best qualities in dogs and small children – they are so sincere. They wear their emotions on their face, in their bark, growl or kisses.
Why aren’t humans more like dogs when it comes to their emotions? Seems we are taught to hold things in at a young age, which definitely has its good qualities [insert memory of heinous toddler temper tantrums here]. And growling at work or dinner parities would probably be socially unacceptable. BUT I do wish sometimes we could all release our feelings and not hold things in so much. Even if it means every once in a while we need to dance on a table…
I’d like to say this photo was a candid shot of unconditional love experienced by my 8 year old son and our 4 year old Golden. Well….that’s half true! Although during this snuggle fest on our bed, my son whispered to me “take my picture” so it wasn’t exactly candid! But both my sons adore our dogs and that is such a blessing. But what did I expect?
I was born into a family of dog lovers. My dad always joked that he wanted to come back as the “Murphy dog” because they were all so spoiled and loved. And the ironic thing is that my family seemed unable to express their love for each other, but never shied away from kissing and hugging our dogs and saying “I love you!” as long as the recipient of the declaration was canine.
Last year was a hard year for my family. After losing my mom’s rescue dog, two weeks later we lost my dad. But the two events couldn’t be more different. My dad had suffered for years in an assisted living facility dedicated to patients with severe dementia. He had multiple strokes and was in a wheelchair, unable to eat solid food for a long time. My mother visited him and sat with him for years; sometimes you felt there was some recognition, other times you knew there wasn’t. Quite an emotional roller coaster for all of us. My children were fearful at times walking into the home as dementia patients would come try to hold their hand and talk to them. But they were troopers and we all learned that just being there could mean a lot to other patients who never saw friends or family. Since my parents retired to South Florida, my mom and friends were close by, but us kids (and grandkids) didn’t get to visit as often as we’d like.
In the end his passing was a blessing. People always say that and you think it sounds awful, right? But it was true. After having to put two of my beloved dogs to sleep in the past, I know how excruciating that process is. And I can’t tell you how many times my family talked about the fact that we treat our animals with more respect than our human family members.
This photo is one we chose for my dad’s memorial.
We had to have a picture with his favorite child – Jessie the pug 🙂 After raising three independent girls, Jessie was truly the boy he never had!
And as for my mom, well she’s doing remarkably well. She’s 84 (she doesn’t use “the internet” so won’t be upset with me for mentioning her age!) and has a new baby that she’s just nuts about. Casper, a rescue Maltese.
So the cycle continues – all of us Murphys and now Coiles are true crazy animal people. It’s in our genes. And I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
This week we celebrated Valentine’s Day with our loved ones, but it was also a time to remember loved ones who are no longer here. A close friend lost her beloved golden retriever this week and as we talked and laughed and cried together, I kept thinking how cruel it is that pets live such short lives, but also how LUCKY we are to share them. She, like I, was head over heels for our dogs and often regarded as “crazy” by our friends and family. In a good way I hope 🙂 But we both know that the pure unconditional love you share with special pets is so powerful. I don’t feel embarrassed, in fact, I feel sorry that some people will never experience this type of love. Because it is simple and uncomplicated and something we all deserve and need.
As we age, we are losing so many dear friends that sometimes it’s overwhelming. It’s like a clock is ticking and we know we will be next. It’s unavoidable. And we don’t always see eye to eye with our relatives, sometimes there are so many mixed feelings we have to reconcile at the end of life. But our pets are always just there, not judging us, not staying mad at us, never ignoring us, just loving us. How special that relationship is, and for me, as I struggle with aging parents, I am ever thankful that I have had and will always have a furry dog to hug.
And hugging a dog can be true therapy. As you can tell by the photo of my oldest son, I am (hopefully) passing on the dog hugging gene to my boys 🙂 Because they will need it too. During one of the most painful times in my life when I lost a close friend to a car accident at a very young age, I remember feeling like life was spinning out of control. It was my first time dealing with death and I was in shock. We were all grieving at my friend’s house and so was their family dog. I remember this little dog gingerly walking up to me and bowing her head and it dawned on me that she also needed a hug. That hug meant the world to me and now I don’t hesitate to grab my dogs when I need a hug. Of course I grab my kids and husband as well so don’t think I’m ignoring them! But sometimes it’s nice to huge someone without having to explain, without having to go into details, to just feel that love. Because your dog will always give it back to you. (Well, assuming you treat it with respect and dignity of course.)
This past week I was awakened at 2am to clean up vomit – yes once again Rudy ate something hard and plastic – and I was irritated and cranky and couldn’t get back to sleep. But then the next day I’m reminded how fragile life is. For all the hassle and cleanups, it’s truly a small price to pay for the love I get in return.
Now go hug those doggies 🙂