Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week 4: Furry Friends

I was born into a family with a dog, a white miniature poodle named Carmel.  She was my first friend and I was devastated when she parents say I would go outside and throw treats into the air, hoping to send them to her in Heaven. 

Soon after her passing my parents, brother and I got a black miniature poodle we named Kid.  She was my faithful companion through all adolescent joys and drama...sports teams made, my first boyfriend, my first broken heart, the passing of my grandparents, holidays and illnesses.  She was there for it all.  I missed a college final exam to go home to say goodbye to her (I had a compassionate professor who not only understood, but urged me to schedule test-taking time in his office later in the week).

The house seemed so empty when I came home from college that summer.  I called a family meeting and urged my parents to add another dog to our family.  My mom opened the paper and there we found an ad placed by a family that lived near my college town who had a little red poodle that needed a home.  Later that week I was in their kitchen meeting my new sister, Lacey...and the people who would become life-long friends...the kind that are more like family (xoxo, Cathy and Co!).

When searching for my first post-college apartment, I was sure to find one that allowed dogs.  Shortly after my now-husband, Aaron, and I talked about marriage, I had him go with me to pick out a wire fox terrier puppy we named Skone.  Skone was at our wedding and as our family grew, he happily greeted each of our children when they were brought home from the hospital...and could be found outside of their door during our naps.  He was such a good boy...and his passing was extra painful because it was the first time our children lost a loved one. 

A couple of months later we found ourselves parents to two puppies, Maude (a gray Schnauzer/Poodle mix a neighbor was selling when their dog had unplanned puppies) and George (a ginger Wire Fox Terrier rescued from southern Illinois).  For the record, I do not recommend adding two puppies to your family at once; good grief that was a difficult time.   I'm happy to report they are both about to turn 3 and are calming down...a little bit. 

Our pups have given our children an opportunity to practice responsibility and compassion, and have given the unconditional love only God and doG are capable of.  They give kisses to calm tantrums and keep secrets whispered in their furry ears.  They bound at the door when we come home and snuggle up at night.  And so, this week's Kindness Countdown activity is dedicated to dogs...both those we have loved and lost and those new to our hearts. (Please join me in welcoming my new sister, Molly, whom my parents adopted two weeks ago!) 

This week we had a family outing to purchase 44 pounds of dog food and six dog toys followed by a trip to our local Humane Society to donate them.  And of course we stayed for quite some time to love on the dogs, cats and other small animals up for adoption. 

If you're looking to add a pet to your family, I highly recommend visiting your local shelter or Humane Society or searching online to find a rescue animal that suits your family's needs (non-shedding, appropriate size, etc.).  If you're willing and able, there are also independent rescues around the country in need of foster parents for dogs and cats while forever homes are located.

I'd love to write more, but all of this talk about dogs has me in the mood for a pick up game of fetch.  Until next week...

"The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wing and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens." - Senator George Vest, 1870

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