Friday, September 19, 2008

Soul Dogs

"When I was a young girl I believed in soul mates; now I believe in soul dogs." - Joyce Freedman

It's been obvious to me since Dixie's passing just how much my dogs really do play a special role in the life of dog people. Dogs touch us in ways that are simply indescribable to those people who don't share their lives with canines. Their devotion, their enthusiasm and their humor are all little gems that enrich our very existence. Dixie's death has caused me to reflect on these things and has given me renewed appreciation for each one of my four-legged fur-kids.

I honestly never expected to really miss Dixie; she could be a real pain. She had separation anxiety, awful teeth, a penchant for chasing fireworks, and the often-annoying habit of "WUFF"-ing at you whenever she decided she needed something. I often cursed at her under my breath (or even audibly) as she could be quite demanding and her insistence increased in volume dramatically within a very short period of time. But my expectations were folly -- how could I not miss that dog? How could I not miss the sweet pestering, the soulful brown beagle-eyes, the warm snuggle on a cold winter morning?

Perhaps as I began to slowly amass a bakers' dozen dogs, I took for granted just a little bit about each one. Each has his or her own special qualities that make him or her an individual, but in my eyes they began to become a group, a pack operating as one being. They were fed, watered, and picked up after at the same time. Free play time in the yard came as a group, and so did running. But since Dixie has departed, I've taken extra time to see every single one of my dogs as an individual. My appreciation for all of them has been heightened and I've noticed qualities, both good and bad, about all dozen of them. Skiff gets my heart with her fond nibbles and licks at my nose when I lean over her and her quiet wherewithal whenever she is being handled; File' makes me smile with her exuberance and joy simply to be alive, much less to have a nylabone; Zinger tells me that she is unequivocally happy with her woo-woo-woos that she throws my way when we're hooking up to run; Clover has more energy than should be legal in a sled dog and she's always ready to give a little more; Zak gives me quiet sidelong glances and begs to be petted and talked to when I walk past him; Zed literally smiles when it's time to hook up for a run or when we are trotting back into the staging area from finishing one up; Calvin trusts in his mother without question -- and I'm probably the only person who is privileged to have his true love; Balu enjoys his station in life as the Senior dog and the ruler of the dog yard; and finally, Indi is just plain happy to BE.

And so, I have to pass on what I've learned in the past weeks, which is to love and be loved. Appreciate, accept, and embrace differences in your dogs. And strive to be the person your dog thinks that you are!


Elizabeth said...

I only have one dog, so I have naturally spoiled him and grown very attached to him. I thank God often for giving me a wonderful companion to make this life a bit brighter. By the way there are several saints that shared special connections with animals. Check out St. Innocent of Alaska and the eagle story.

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