Diesel lives next door. He is a beautiful boxer dog. He lives with his mother, Bailey and their family. When he is outside, he always wants to say hello. He and Bailey rush to the fence and sniff my fingers and to let me know that he is keeping guard. But both of the dogs are ready to get back to their family and then position themselves in front of the gate waiting expectantly to be restored to the safety of their home.
We used to have a dog named Ralph who looked surprising like the dog in this picture. He was a mixed breed and so loving. He is by far my favorite pet of all time. When my husband Joe would go out to water the yard, Ralph would go along and assist by picking up the hose in his mouth and following behind. He was absolutely crazy about spaghetti noodles. When we would bring home a “doggie bag” from the Spaghetti Works Restaurant, he immediately knew. His eyes would bug out and he would start jumping. When we lifted a long string of the spaghetti as high as we could, he would rocket into the air and gain the coveted prize! He was always glad when we were home and his greeting would begin from his perch on the window over the driveway. Ever vigilant, he lived to be in our presence.
My friend Rachel, had a pet Lamb. The breeders didn’t think it would live, but if he did live, he had been scheduled to be Easter dinner. Her heart went out to this little black lamb with Chartreuse eyes who had been born with a deformed leg. The ewe stepped on the baby and rejected the baby lamb. The owners brought the tiny bundle to Rachel to nurse to health and told her not to name it as they knew her pretty well. They looked at the lamb as a product, but when she looked on it with compassion. When Rachel found out it was scheduled to be the main course of the coming holiday, she knew she would help it live and opted to name it Easter! As the days went by, Rachel would walk along side with the lamb’s leg up against hers patiently teaching it to move. She prayed over him and little by little, the leg began to straighten out. The lamb knew her voice and to get him to come, all she had to say was, “Easter, come to Mama!” I think it goes almost without saying that this critter never became Easter dinner. Easter had been redeemed.
When I was a kid, my sister, Sherry, had two goldfish that she named Tom and Jerry. They were entertaining to me for about two minutes, but she really cared for them. They were hers and she took the responsibility seriously. One day, she got up early and went to look at her fish and one of them was floating on top! She ran into our parents bedroom and cried, “Mama, Tommy is dead!” My dad raised up and said, “Whose Tommy?” He was not impressed when it was the dime store gold-fish. He rolled over and went back to sleep. I helped Sherry and we found a match box which we turned into a coffin. With great solemnity, we had a service and laid the tiny gold critter to rest. Sometimes, we still remember this together. She was very committed to the little swimmers. We managed to move forward.
Diesel was bred by his owners and was one of a litter of 12. He was the pick of the litter and he was loved and cared for from the very beginning.
Ralph was a mutt and we found him in a trailer park. His mama had been a lady of the streets and his breeding was always in question. When we went to pick him up, two obnoxious children who were looking at several of the pups and decided on two of them. One of the pups was a brown ball of fluff with pleading brown eyes. His owner had mercy on him and us and we were blessed to take him home He lived a wonderful life of comfort even though he had no pedigree.
Easter was broken and doomed from the beginning and was nurtured back to health by a loving woman who could see past the wounds and with patience, helped the lamb to grow up to be happy and whole.
Tommy, the little gold-fish, was a low-cost investment for a young child, but it made a small blonde girl very happy and when he left, he was missed.
Each of these pets gave back to their owners. Each of us were enriched for having shared our lives with these special animals. USA Weekend had an article on “Why Pets are Good for US.,” written by Steven Dale that says pets of all kinds help us feel better and just petting a dog increases our level of oxytocin (a feel good hormone and mood-affecting neurotransmitter). Alzheimer patients who had lost interest in eating had gold-fish placed in their rooms and their appetites improved.
Let’s appreciate our pets and the pets others allow us to enjoy without the responsibility of feeding or cleaning up after them. They give whole heartedly and do not hold back. We have much to learn.