Theres a reason dogs are called mans best friend
I watched the new movie Marley and Me at the local drive in one Thursday night and before I left I knew what one of my next articles would be about…dogs…yes dogs.
Having been raised in Ellis County all my life it should come as no surprise that our family had a long history with family pets and most of them were dogs.
We only had one dog that we paid for and most of them were of questionable pedigree, but they were all special in their own way.
That is part of what makes dogs unique, their personality.
My parents had a mutt named Stinker well before I was born and for some time after.
Some of my earliest memories are of that fat little terrier that we often used as a pillow while lying on the floor.
According to my parents Stinker wasn’t too fond of me when I first arrived.
Stinker had been a lap dog all her life, but with the new baby in the house mom wouldnt allow her in her lap because of "the baby."
Well it didn’t take Stinker long to figure out what the problem was and it was me.
Mom said initially Stinker would go lay under my bed and growl in a very low tone.
She didn’t like me taking her place in the family.
Of course that all passed with time and her acceptance of me into the pack.
Once again there was harmony in the household.
As a child I had asthma and at that time one of the treatments for asthma was to have a Chihuahua dog, yes, that was considered medical care.
We had more than one, but my very first favorite one was Pancho.
Pancho was a Deer Chihuahua, a special breed that was very skinny and nervous.
Poor Pancho was also epileptic and would on occasion have a seizure in which he would stiffen up like a board for a while and then recover.
He never seemed to have a lasting affect from the seizures other than he was thankful when they were over.
I loved Pancho and he loved me back, but then again that is part of what makes dogs so special.
They ask for nothing more than our attention and love.
They never judge us, or doubt us, or remember those times when we discipline them.
They are loyal, loving and faithful.
There is a reason why they are called man’s best friend.
A few years into Pancho’s life we welcomed Cisco into the pack.
Now old Pancho wasn’t too sure about this new pack member and spent much time establishing his dominance in the pecking order…until Cisco got a little older.
It was around this time that I was getting a little older and not around the house as much as I was before girls and cars.
I didn’t realize at the time how much my dogs missed me when I wasn’t around.
Fortunately for them my dad was always around and he loved these two dogs very much.
I can remember the sadness the day old Pancho passed away; it hurts even to this day as I write this article. Well, that left dad and Cisco to develop their relationship even further.
Dad was forced to retire early due to a heart condition and spent hours and hours down in the workshop behind our house working on lawnmowers, but he was never alone.
Cisco was always by his side, day and night.
If dad was in the shop so was Cisco.
If dad was in the recliner, so was Cisco.
He was a great dog.
I can remember how each and every time I would come to the shop he would go outside and wait by the door for me to head back to the house.
Somewhere during our life together we had developed a competitive relationship regarding who could run back to the house faster.
He as really cool about it too.
He would slowly wander out to the starting line and nonchalantly linger, waiting on just the right moment.
Of course I would try to sneak around acting like I wasnt really paying attention to what was going on and then I would break for the house.
It was an understanding between the two of us, a game between pack members and best friends.
Needless to say that little six pound ball of lightning would pin those ears back and outrun me every time.
I could swear that I could see the smile on his face when he turned to look back.
Of course in later years he wasnt so fast but he still won.
I just didn’t think it would be right to win after all those years.
I can tell you that the day old Cisco died was traumatic.
I only saw tears in my father’s eyes three times in my life.
Once at my marriage; once when he buried a very good friend; and once when he told me that Cisco was dead.
It is hard to describe how difficult it was to see the strongest man I had ever know crushed and saddened this way and it couldn’t come at a worse time.
Mom was in the hospital with a diagnosis of breast cancer and was undergoing surgery.
Dad was alone in the home for the first time in a long time, perhaps ever during their entire marriage.
I knew something must be done.
That something was found in a small living room in Lancaster.
I had read an ad about Chihuahua puppies for sale and spent my utility bill money on a new dog.
He wasn’t hard to pick out from the pack of tiny little terrors inside the playpen.
Looking back I guess he actually picked me.
I took this chocolate brown little puppy with four white stocking feet and placed him in my coat pocket and headed to the hospital.
When I arrived dad was waiting in mom’s room and he looked like the light had just gone right out of him.
I told him I had something for him and he asked what it was.
I pulled Coco out of my pocket, but he couldn’t see what it was because he was so small I could hide him in my hand.
I opened my hands and my fathers face lit up with the biggest smile I had ever seen.
It was really good to see my father come out of his slump and once again there was a new member of the pack.
It just goes to show you how important a relationship can be between humans and dogs.
There is a special quality about good dog. I can write page after page after page of my experiences with dogs in our pack.
I have had several and each one has been special in their own way.
There is so much a young man or woman can learn by having their own dog.
They can teach us much about loyalty and love.
I do not believe there is a more loyal being in this world than a dog.
They love us unconditionally and do so no matter how badly we may treat them or ignore them.
They are always happy to see us when we come home and only ask for a little attention and a small amount of our time.
I think it important to recognize our responsibilities to our pets.
I spent the last 15 minutes at the movie crying like a baby and reliving some pretty tough emotional times.
I, like most of you, have had to watch my animals die and quite honestly I am not any good at it. I have come to realize however, that it is not about me or my feelings when that time does come around.
No matter how painful it might be for me, it would be more painful for them if we werent there to comfort them in their last few moments.
How selfish it would be for me to allow my best friend to be put to sleep in the company of strangers. We owe them so much for all they have given us; we can surely comfort them and be there for them when their time comes.
No matter how painful it might be, I will never allow one of my pets to pass from this world without me being there to tell them how much I love them and holding them one last time.
After all, they would do the same for me without any hesitation.