Dogs Are Family, Too!

DogsAreFamilyTimelineTo borrow just a few words from my good friends at Google, “the loyalty, affection, and exploits” of my dogs throughout my years on this earth have inspired a rich body of true, sometimes hilarious and sometimes sad stories that have only added to my life events.  My blog would be incomplete without at least a few of them.  And sorry, kids, but if I write about our dogs, the stories are probably going to include you, too!

My Eight Years With My Sole Companion, Mutt

MuttAs you can see from my doggie timeline above, Mutt was my first pet! I guess you can tell he got his name because he was “Heinz 57” as they used to call mixed breeds.  My grandfather Roy rescued him from street kids in an alley outside a local market.  It seems these kids had nothing better to do than to set fire to this small pup’s tail.  Roy brought him home to me when I was about three and helped me heal him.  And, this could be where Mutt got his distrust of people.  For the next 8 years Mutt was by my side everywhere I went and in everything I did.

Let’s see, Mutt’s big-time personality changes transformed him from my unkempt, closed-mouthed, accident-prone, and socially inept, but lovable confidant into something like the Nutty Professor’s “Buddy Love.”  His in-your-face, arrogant alter ego, overachiever, super-dog protector persona overtook him at a moment’s notice.

One hot summer morning, our neighbor was squatting beside his car washing its wheels.  Mutt walked over, lifted his leg, and decided to give him a personal rinse job.

Now, I was an only child up until I was 11.  And Mutt was the best companion.  I could tell Mutt anything and everything–and I did.  He just sat or laid beside me and looked into my eyes to let me know he understood how I was feeling on any given topic we were discussing.

Unlike some of my dogs later in life, Mutt had a real dislike for neighbors on bicycles, in cars, and on motorcycles.  One red-headed young man would speed past our house almost nightly during good weather days.  Most times Mutt couldn’t catch him, but he always gave him a run for his money.  Well, one night it finally happened.  Either the biker slowed down or Mutt had that extra surge of energy.  Unfortunately, Mutt won this one and the biker was sent to the hospital and received multiple stitches on his leg.  And, for this, Mutt had to be restrained for three weeks, awaiting the word from the animal authorities that the man did not develop any further disease–like rabies!!!

I sometimes played tag with our neighbors across the street.  They were a blended family and had at least 6 children, plus others nearby who always came to their house.  With Mutt only a few feet behind me, I got tagged by one of the neighbors and Mutt tagged the neighbor back big time.  My protector was in jail again for another three weeks.

The ice cream man was another guy that Mutt took a dislike to–and rightly so.  It turns out, that he was a pervert, but unfortunately, Mutt wasn’t there when “it was revealed to me.”  The “Good Humor” man was much less than humorous that day!

Well, I don’t even remember who the victim of the third bite was, but, it was the last straw. Mutt had protected me for the very last time.  And, although it broke my heart and my dad’s too, Mutt had to be euthanized.  I was 11 and Mutt had been my best friend and protector since I was three.  And, because of his love for me, he had to be put down.

Next Meet Our Little Dog, Origins from China–Sammy, the Pekingese

Sam1Sammy was a nickname for his proper name “Sampan,” which was also a name for a type of Chinese fishing boat.  I would say Sammy came into our home about six months to nine months after Mutt was laid to rest. Sammy was part of a litter of three.  My uncle Johnny and his wife picked out the black and white one, Mei;  my grandmother got the orange male and called him, “Pekoe,” like the orange tea, because of his coat’s coloring and we got Sammy, the tan male. Uncle Johnny and his wife split up shortly afterward. His wife took Mei with her.

Pekoe had one bad habit.  He often napped under the cars in the driveway to get away from the sun.   We all knew this about Pekoe and we would always check before moving the cars. Well, this one time, a friend forgot to look and it was all over in an instant for sweet little Pekoe.

Sammy was the feisty one among the litter of young pups. Our daily schedule was to let Sammy outside while we all got ready for the day ahead. Sammy had the routine for about a year, but this one day, he was late coming back. Then, came the knock at our door from a neighbor. Sammy, too, had been hit by a car and his injuries were incompatible with life. Yet another hard lesson to teach me that life being made up of only fleeting moments.

Our family, in spite of and because of our genuine love of animals,  promised to never get another pet unless we could afford an appropriate fenced area.   And, my parents at the time were house hunting.   When we moved the first two things they purchased–first, a fenced backyard that the back door opened right into it.  And, second, another Pekingese, that they named Sammy II.  At the time of our move, I was 13, had a baby brother to help care for, and was moving into my teenaged years, where my need for constant companionship from of dog was not as important as it had been in my early years and as an only child.  So Sammy II was definitely mom and dad’s third child and he lived a long and happy life.  Sammy passed suddenly and quietly while lying out in the backyard on a bright and sunny day at the age of 12.

To be Continued…

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