Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Dog's Life

My family has had a lot of pets. I learned at a very young age to not become too attached to a pet because they die. I do not dislike animals. In fact dogs love me. I just try to not grow to care for them because it is too hard to part with them.

When I was very young my family had a dog named Trixie. She had a large litter of puppies that my brother and I dropped into the the outdoor toilet. You can read about that here. We lived in the country and Trixie roamed free. She was hit by a car and died.

If our parents allowed us to name a new dog we always chose the name Suzie. I have no idea how many Suzies there were but we had a lot of them.

Once my father came home with a tiny wire-haired terrier. I thought it was a chihuahua. I no longer remember it's name. My father had found it in his duties as town marshal which included him being the animal control officer. He brought home so many animals because he could not bring himself to kill them.

One dog he brought home was a stray. He held it for the required amount of time to see if an owner claimed it. No one came forward. Daddy said he took it out into the country, shot it, and buried it. When he got back to town the dog was waiting for him. Whether Daddy was completely truthful or not did not matter. We had a new dog.

My sister knew a woman who had a dog that she showed in dog shows. She could no longer keep the dog for some reason. My sister took it.

Misky was the dog's name. She was a pretty dog with long hair that my sister liked to groom.

The only problem was that Misky had a problem. When she had to defecate she would go outside and scream in terrible pain every time.

My sister took her to several vets and they found the problem but could not see a solution. There was something wrong with her intestines that made it painful for her to do what she needed to do. Eventually the pain became so severe that Misky had to be put down.

My husband brought home a coon hound named Redneck. Redneck immediately loved the children and they loved him.

He was a funny dog. He would begin with a bark and end up baying... arf, arf, arf, arf arrooooooooo. He would run after vehicles. He especially liked motorcycles. The bike riders thought he wanted to bite them and some would kick at him to try to keep him away. They did not realize that he simply wanted to race.

Redneck was a Lothario. He fathered most of the puppies in the area. The give-away was the red color in their coats. Redneck was the only dog around who was that color.

One day I heard someone outside talking. At first I thought it was someone walking by on the sidewalk but I heard it for quite a while.

The kids were in school so I knew they were safe. I opened the front door to see what was going on. There was the dogcatcher standing on the sidewalk in front of our house trying to entice Redneck into coming to him. He could not come onto private property so he could not catch Redneck who was up against the front door. I smiled sweetly at him as Redneck came into the house then I shut the door.

Although we could never prove it we believed that a junk yard owner with a lot of female dogs shot him and killed him. Others had told us that it happened.

My husband and his friend were working when they saw a dog lying in the street. She had been hit by a car and could not move. She was afraid and tried to bite everyone who got too close. My husband got a blanket to throw over her and took her to the vet.

Sheba (that is what the children named her) had a leg broken in three places and her hip was shattered like a jigsaw puzzle. When my husband brought her home she was in a cast from her waist to the bottom of her broken leg. She required a lot of care and she healed more quickly than the doctor had originally thought.

Sheba was now in a cast for only her leg when she came into heat. We carefully kept her separated from Redneck for obvious reasons.

We went for a family outing. To make sure that Redneck and Sheba would not get too friendly we put Redneck in the back yard. It was completely fenced so he would be safe and could not roam. Sheba was in the house safely away from all males.

Several hours later we returned home. When we opened the front door there were both Sheba and Redneck to greet us with big smiles on their faces. After the appropriate amount of time Sheba successfully and safely gave birth to her litter.

Sheba was a Doberman and Redneck was a little red coon hound. The puppies all looked like Dobermans except that where a Doberman is tan they had red fur.

As we found homes for all the puppies but one Sheba began to be more and more attached to my husband and oldest son.  She would not allow the children near my husband. Then came the day she viciously snapped at my daughter who was only about three years old. We had to find her another home.

As I said we kept one of the puppies. He more or less was my oldest son's dog but all the children loved him. He was named Attila Thor Doberhound.

Attila thought he was one of the children. He knew he was a different kind of kid but he was still one of them.

He would sit with his rear end on the couch and front paws on the floor to watch television with the others. He played games with them too.

His favorite game was hide-and-seek. If he was it he would wait a while and then go looking until he found them. Then he would hide so the new it person found him. He was a smart dog.

He liked to wander like his father did. Often he would come racing home with the dogcatcher in hot pursuit. He would run up close to the fence in front of our house because he knew that when they threw that circular net to catch him it would land against the fence leaving Attila an opening to keep running until he was safe.

Attila disappeared when we were moving. The kids searched for him constantly. After a couple of months they found him at the dog pound. He was severely injured and the doctors there did not think he would survive.

Someone had hung him up by his hind legs probably with a wire. The skin was gone or damaged at that point. They did not know if he would be able to walk again. He was malnourished. It was recommended that we "put him to sleep".

My second son was having none of that. He said he would take care of him and made them show him what to do. And he did. It took a long time but my son nursed Attila back to health. He could walk and run but not as fast as before.

After some time Attila disappeared again. We did not find him that time.

My oldest son said he wanted to have a dog of his own that he could raise from a puppy. He wanted to give it a good life and have it until the end of its life.

I was visiting a friend and sitting on the front porch enjoying a nice spring day. The neighbors had a puppy tied up outside. I noticed that it had no water and had been out there for a long time.

Then the little boys who owned it came out to play with it. Their idea of play was to taunt the puppy with sticks. I had to go tell their mother that they were hurting the puppy.

Her attitude was oh well. She was taking it to the pound the next day anyway. I took the puppy home with me and gave it to my son.

He named her Tilly after Attila. She adored her new friend.

Tilly never ate table scraps. She knew they were people food and she was not a people. She would also never eat in front of us. If she was given a dog treat she would take it and go to another room to eat it.

Imagine my surprise one day when we had gone to Wendy's to get something to eat. All my children were there so we sat in the living room talking as we ate. I set my frosty on the floor so I would not have to hold it all the time.

The children were all struggling not to laugh. I had no idea what the joke was and asked but they just kept choking in laughter as their eyes watered.

I reached for my frosty. There was Tilly lappng away at it. She actually stole food! I laughed too. After that if we went to Wendy's we made sure to get her a frosty of her own.

She also liked cherry flavored cough drops. She would get into them in my son's room and eat a few.

Another thing she liked was the money my son kept on a shelf just over his bed. He did not like to carry much money with him so he would just pull it out of his pocket and put it on the shelf. Often he would come home from work to find that Tilly had pulled down all the paper money onto the bed and was just rolling in it gleefully.

Tilly began to walk in circles. It was a constant thing. From one end of the house to the other she just walked all the time. When she had a seizure we took her to the vet. She had a brain lesion and would eventually have to be put down. The vet said we would know when it was time.

One night after a particularly severe seizure my son decided it was time. At the last minute he could not do it. The next morning she began having one seizure after another. Between seizures she whined wanting my son to make it better.

We took her to the vet. The vet was so understanding and went to ready the injection that would end Tilly's suffering. Tilly looked up at my son with pleading in her eyes to make it stop. The vet came in as she started to seize again and administered the shot. It was over in seconds.

They handed us a box of Kleenex and left us to say goodbye. Many tears and a box of tissues later we went home to grieve.

Now my son has another dog. He went for about 15 years before he felt able to care for another dog. Her name is Isabella. He causes her Bella.

My son got her from a family that was moving and could not take her along. She had been rescued from an abusive situation as a small puppy. She had been left to die in a closed apartment with no food and no water.

Bella did not like men at all. She resisted being close to my son for months. But he was the only one to take care of her so she slowly gave in. She now goes to him to be petted which she did not like at first. She sits on his lap even though she is a big dog. She is getting the love she needed as a puppy.

Bella gave us a scare last night. My son gave her one of those little rawhide treats that is tied to look like a bone. She loves them because she can toss them around and play with them before she eats them.

She was happily tossing it in the air and chasing it when she started to act strangely. The thing was caught in the back of her mouth and she could not get it out. She was digging frantically with her paws.but she could not reach it.

She seemed able to breathe around it but it was really stuck and who knew how long it would take for a shift to block her air.

My son and I tried to hold her so that one of us could reach in and dislodge the thing. She knew we were trying to help so she tried to let us do it but she was fighting panic too.

It was Sunday so I was trying to find a vet that would help us when my son said that she had finally gotten it out. He and I both collapsed in relief.

Bella's paws are swollen today. She did not cut them because we looked for blood but they were certainly irritated. My son said the inside of her mouth looked raw but other than that she is fine.  We were lucky.

There have been a lot of other dogs that I did not mention. One day I will tell the tales of the left out dogs.


  1. Wow! You knew so many dogs.
    I also love dogs. We had a golden retriever named "Kringle". His previous owner kept him in a closet. After he got used to us he became a wonderful pet. When he was old he had cancer so we had to put him down.
    Our last dog was also a golden receiver. We called him "Barkus" but he never really barked much. When he tried he sort of gagged. When he was older he developed testicular cancer and had to be put down.
    Now we don't have a pet. Like you said it's very hard when they die.
    Take care,
    ~John M

    1. We did have a lot of dogs. The ones I mentioned are only a fraction of the pets we have owned. There were so many more dogs along with cats, goats, horses, chickens, pigs, skunks, rabbits, mink, hermit crabs, fish, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and sea monkeys. Whew! I am sure there are more but I need to catch my breath.

  2. We live on a dead-end road and people have dropped unwanted pets here for years. We've had some great animals. Year before last, we lost three dogs that we'd had for years. You're right. It's difficult when one dies, but we wouldn't trade the time we had with them.

    1. Exactly. At one time we lived on a major street in the city. It was a fire route used by fire trucks responding to fires. The approximately four block stretch where we lived had only three houses when we moved there. Only two of them were lived in. So people liked to drop off their dogs there too. I really wish people would think ahead. If you do not want the responsibility of a pet do not get one. If for some reason you cannot keep it find it a good home.

  3. Wow, impressive experience with so many dogs. I haven't owned one personal pet. I've taken cared of few, my grandpa's dogs and my brother's. Lately my in law's cat whom I learned to get attached with died and it was difficult. We had to put her down after she wasn't able to recover well from operation. After that I told myself, I don't want to own a pet. I like them tho.

    1. What I have chosen to say is that I am not an animal lover. I would never mistreat an animal and I detest seeing others mistreat them. But I try not to become attached.

  4. We had a couple of dogs when I was growing up, a male collie named (appropriately) Laddie, and then a light tan German Shepherd named Baron. But, years aho, my father had a white spitz (?) named Teddy and I have seen photos of other family members with Teddy who was a very popular dog. Personally, I have had a couple of cats, Sambuca and Charlie and Pat has had several dogs and cats. Now, however, we are petless by choice. You have a good memory for remembering all those pet names, Emma!

    1. There are a lot of them that I cannot remember names. You have had a few of your own.

  5. I really enjoyed reading this article! I have just launched a book on The Doberman dog care, here is the link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T4EUY1S

    1. The cover for your book is very attractive. The Doberman is a beautiful dog.