Saturday, April 5, 2008

He Melted My Cold, Hard Heart

No dog could ever take the place of Eric. He was a one-in-a-zillion dog. I honestly can't remember a single 'bad' thing he ever did. He was house trained and heeling by the time he was three weeks old. "Training" was something I never did with him. All I did is take care of him and love him, and the rest took care of itself. He was so smart no explaining was necessary. We were such soul mates and he had such trust he just effortlessly came along, learned, and applied. I knew there'd never be another one like him, and after him I could never (Eric and Me, circa 1972.)

even think about opening my heart to another dog. Someday maybe I'll tell you Eric's story. After Eric, I never wanted another dog.

Until George.

George was one of twelve puppies born to a yellow lab mom. K, my oldest daughter, rescued the mother and puppies from a neglectful situation, and was caring for them all. After they were weaned, she kept one puppy, and found homes for all the rest except George. It's not an easy feat finding homes for twelve puppies, but between friends and Pet Adoption League and the Adoption Fairs they hold at local PetSmart stores, she found homes for all except one of them. Sensing what was probably about to happen, I told her, "Take him to one more adoption fair. If no one wants him, I'll take him."

I tried not to fall in love in with George. I really tried. I purposely avoided visiting K and all those puppies. I could feel myself getting sucked in. I could feel my heart strings being pulled. The logical, rational part of me thought I was nuts. "How silly," I told myself. DO NOT get attached to that puppy. "Your kids are all practically grown up. Why would you want to get a dog now? You can see the light at the end of the tunnel - freedom from responsibility, freedom to travel, a clean, neat, orderly house. . . Don't. do it!" In the end I couldn't resist.

After Eric, I refused to have a dog. I just couldn't imagine going through that kind of heartbreak again. I did have cats all the time, but never again a dog. I even tried once when my kids were small with a sweet English Springer Spaniel who was looking for a home. She was too much of a handful though, and too rough with my small children. We worked with her for about six months, but Youngest Daughter was scared of her after being knocked down a few too many times, and her little preschool friends wouldn't come over to play anymore because they were scared of the dog too.

We found her (the dog, not my daughter!) a better-suited home with kids too big for her to knock down all the time. Her new family loved her. I never thought twice about it, since I hadn't let myself get attached to her anyway. After that I stood firm on my NO DOG policy in spite of my children's pleading. I'd let my heart turn to stone where dogs were concerned. Even puppies weren't enough to soften my cold, hard heart.

I hadn't thought much about how attached I am to George until the past four months while he was visiting Youngest Daughter. I didn't even miss him much at first. I kind of enjoyed the freedom. I definitely didn't miss the hair everywhere. But the longer he was gone, the more I realized how attached to him I really am. The last time I visited him I cried when it was time to leave him. "How silly," I thought. It's only now that he's home that I've really realized how attached I am to him, and it's a little scary.

In spite of his hair everywhere, his OCD tendencies, and the fact that he's the biggest baby and the whiniest dog I've met in my life (for George, to breathe is to whine,) he's just a big ole' sweetie and I've never regretted opening my heart to him.

Bonding with a pet brings joy, life lessons, and many experiences, not all of them easy to bear. I know he won't be here forever. A large-breed mix, at seven years old, he's already considered geriatric. So here's a toast to you George: May you live many more happy, healthy years. And may I never take your big old sweet self for granted again.


  1. george is such a cutie!

  2. Aw, thank you Gina. I think so, but then I might be just a teensy bit biased!

  3. You touched my heart. I'm glad George is in your life.

  4. Linda: I liked your story about George and now I feel a tiny bit attached to him as well. I wish him a long life, too. I'm so glad you opened your heart to him since he brings you joy. Animals are one of God's gifts to us I think to help open up places in our heart we might not even know exist otherwise.
    Meems @ Hoe&Shovel

  5. oh... and I found the circa 1972 photo most interesting. Very cute puppy...

  6. I can relate to your reluctance to allow yourself to love a new dog...I lost my gardening companion last November. I'm close to being able to post about her...but nowhere near ready to go through that again. I'm glad you ended up with George...maybe someday I'll take that step again!

  7. Jane Marie, Aw, thank you! I didn't think I ever could open my heart to another dog after Eric, but I'm glad I did.

    Meems, to know George is to love him! He's a sweetheart.

    I hadn't seen that photo in years. The expression on my face captures very well how much Eric meant to me. He was the best.

    Leslie, I'm so sorry you lost your gardening companion. She must have been very special.

  8. I can understand why you fall in love with George, he is very cute.

    They love us first and we fall in love with them too!

    The differens between a dog and a cat: The dog loves you no matter what, the cat you have to love first, and then, maybe he will love you back :)

  9. First of all, let me join the toast to George, I wish him many more fine years of healthy and happy life, and also to all the other Georges in the world. I wish more of them had the luck to have such wonderful and caring owners.

  10. Aww what a cutie! Thanks for your visit over at my place, it was good to see you :)

  11. What a sweet dog. Sounds typical of labs. We have a couple of them in our life too. I took a bunch of pictures of them this weekend. I've been planning a post for some time, but didn't want to make a post without a picture.

  12. Linda, my dog Calie is the first I've had since childhood too. I adore her but can't stand the thought of her getting old. George looks like a sweetheart!

  13. Linda- There's an award waiting for you at Hoe & Shovel.

  14. Aw, you've gotta love that great big happy grin in the photo at the end of your post!

  15. Marie, that's a good description of the difference between a pet dog or cat!

    Viootje, aw, thank you. Speaking of pets. . . you are quite the animal lover yourself I can see!

    VP, my pleasure!

    Cinj, I'll look forward to seeing your pictures. After having a lab, even though he's a mix, I can see why they're one of the most popular breeds. They're great pets.

    Meems, Thanks so much! I'm back to work as of last week, and have to be somewhere this evening. I should have time to make my picks and pick up your generous kudo tomorrow.

    Amy, it's funny how dogs smile isn't it? George has a very expressive face. No one will ever convince me that animals don't experience emotions.

  16. Melanie,
    I hear you. Calie seems like a sweetheart. Pets become such important members of the family.

    I hate to think about George getting old.

  17. I'm definitely more of a "cat person" than a "dog person" but even so, George is just so cute! He just looks all friendly and like a good companion!

    A dog thinks "You pet me, you feed me, you love me, you must be God." A cat thinks "You pet me, you feed me, you love me, I must be God."


    ~ Monica

  18. Monica, I've been a cat person my whole adult life (trust me, that's a long time, :) until George! I always had two cats at a time. And besides our dogs when I was a kid, my family always had cats too. Actually, we had a lot of critters, including mice, guinea pigs, a gerbil, a rat, a tarantula or two,and an occasional baby bird fallen from it's nest.

    My soft-hearted mom took in a lot of strays, including an occasional kid who'd been kicked out of their house or just needed a cooling-off place from some difficult stuff at home. She was, and still is a pretty cool mom.

    I love your comparison of cats and dogs. Very cute!


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