This week is National Dog Week, which I didn’t even know existed. It really isn’t that surprising, considering there seems to be a special week or day or month for just about everything.
Anyone who has read my blog on a regular basis is probably aware by now that I love dogs. I enjoy learning about and meeting canine workers such as law enforcement k-9 units animals and service canines, but the dogs that truly hold my heart are the love-able mutts whose job is to play tug-of-war with kids, look longingly at ice cream cones, chase bubbles and act brainless even when they are not.
I’ve decided to devote all my blogs this week to the three dogs who have been help a special place in my life — Wendy, Dale and Jeffrey. I’m going to ask my husband to write one also, since he has nothing better to do.
Wendy was the dog of my childhood, Dale was the dog who helped raise my kids and was the other woman in my husband’s life, and Jeffrey is the big goofy dog who resides with us now.
Wendy was a part collie who adopted my oldest brother while he was literally in the middle of a school baseball game. She walked up to him during the game while he was on the field and sat down next to him. I was about six years old when she adopted us, so my brother Chris must have been about eight. She lived to be 18 and died of breast cancer. Wendy was incredibly intelligent and patient. She always seemed to sense if someone was sad or sick and would be available for extra hugs and love, and captured the heart of everyone she met.
Dale, a black lab mutt, helped raise my kids. She probably wasn’t as intelligent as Wendy, but she had so much love to give. She chose the Wettschreck clan, in the same way Wendy chose the Parenteau clan. An acquaintance was giving away a few pups shortly after we moved to Avoca. Eric and the kids pulled up to the friend’s house in the pick-up and one of the puppies jumped in the back of the truck before my crew could even get out. It was like she knew — “Here comes my family! I’d better get in!”
She loved us all, but she and Eric had a special bond. She spent a lot of time at his side, and it made me smile to see how often he would be in the middle of something, reach out to give her ear a scratch, then go back to whatever he was doing without missing a beat. She lived to be 14 years old and has been gone almost a year. That grief is still pretty fresh for my family. The kids probably took it better than we did because their lives are changing so fast. Eric and I still look up and expect to see her in one of her favorite spots.
Then there is Jeffrey. I try to explain to people that I have a big dog who reminds me of the comedian Steve Martin, but they don’t really understand until they meet him. Jeff is this big, gawky, clumsy German short-hair mutt who is always in the way of what-ever you are doing. He’s very smart, but people tend to think of him as a bit of a dumbbell.
He loves to chase bubbles and ran smack into our boat one day while he was in hot pursuit. He thinks there is perpetually a squirrel in one particular tree in our yard. Every time he walks past, he stops to glance up and check on his ghost squirrel. He absolutely loves squeaky toys, but rips the squeaker out of the stuffed ones within seconds of getting it. The plastic ones he handles with care so they continue to squeak. He isn’t as cuddly as some dogs, but he loves to play. And oh, how he makes us laugh.
Usually when he is doing something that makes him look the most foolish is when he gives me this look filled with doggy humor. I truly think he likes making us laugh.
I’ve heard some people scoff at the idea that animals feel emotion, but I remember the look of embarrassment on Wendy’s face when my dad had to cut a bunch of burrs out of her fur and she had a bad hair week. I watched Dale’s look of disdain when we brought home an obnoxious puppy, and her look of concern when one of her babies was sick or hurt. I have witnessed countless times Jeffrey’s flashes of humor, and his sadness after the dog he considered his mommy was gone. His grief was as genuine as ours.
Yep, I’m a dog lover. Most are so full of compassion and love and devotion. I think dogs would make nicer people than a few humans I know.