Over my storied life, I have learned much from my family, school and music teachers, my husband and his family, my work at several venues and of course my dear professors.

There is nothing as educational or wisdom-producing as having responsibility for a life. No, we don’t have children, not our blessing. But I’ve been responsible for the lives of two cats and two dogs in my life over the years.

It’s like being a parent, you watch what goes in and what comes out. Sneezes as a little one and bumps as they age. You choose to adopt and take on a life and at the end, help ease them out of it.

Being responsible for a life teaches care above oneself, humility, joy, and as our Zoe would say ROUTINE. You have to go to the vet for shots, surgeries, even a first senior blood panel and keep your dog quarantined anywhere in the US under the British travel scheme permanently in case you’re sent overseas.

My first dog and cats passed after many happy years over 13 years ago. Now I’ve one old dog, nearly eleven years who we’ve had from six weeks of age. Five walks per day, perhaps six. Creating an indestructible toy. Baths and brushing and her herding us. Deciding to have her hips removed as a pup as she had severe hip dysplasia and going through two recoveries. Oh, she walks just fine and can run fast and corner because she had to grow her own hips from cartilage.

She doesn’t usually bark or whine, just stares until we do what she wants. If she’s over 70 in “dog years” perhaps that is what I should start to do. Just stare at my husband until he does what I want. Ah, well, it doesn’t work with people unless you want a horrible relationship. It does work for a herder, however. Patience is another virtue while caring for another life. It’s 5:00, time for dinner. It’s 5:02, you’re late. Get into the magic room and make my dinner, I don’t care if you’re writing about me on the blog. OK, I’m full, now I need to go for a walk. Stare.

She says “I killed a mouse today. I ate an old dead bird off the pavement and am going to vomit 48 hours later, in a safe place, your bed. Seven loads of laundry later you’ll still love me.” And we do.

Education is key. My first dog was abused for a year then in a shelter for the next. I was a volunteer and met her the first week and we were buddies but she was terrified of men, especially those in uniform, and kids. Even at this no-kill shelter there was word of another meeting to decide her fate. She was home with me the next morning. All it took was a home, love, care and training and she was the best rehabilitated dog in the world. Everyone loved her, and the kids would call out her name from the tot lot and run up to pet her and she adored them.

Did I hear the word sacrifice? No. It’s joy. For many years I was alone, not just single, alone. These were my companions and still are. Our dog Zoe follows me everywhere to make sure her pack is intact, especially as my husband has been off on a work assignment. Trust and loyalty are traits I admire from both me and Zoe. And my old dog’s ashes are in a teddy bear’s heart I move everywhere.

I do not hunt squirrels, however. Don’t worry, she’s on a 6′ leash and couldn’t get them even if she was off it, my dear hip-less wonderdog. Or bunnies. She doesn’t understand why they stay still until she’s 10′ away so they’re just interesting, not prey until they bolt. One thing is that I learn something new every day and that has always been my goal in life in all arenas. Cheers, Dee



One response to “Lessons

  1. Zoe was attacked this morning by a local dog. I checked her out and she’s so much fur around her neck I doubt he got through it. She stood as if a deer in the headlights, I stepped on the offending dog’s leash to keep him in place while Zoe moved out of danger and his owner took him away. I thought he was more bark than bite until someone else said he bit through his jeans. She was freaked out for a bit but seems OK. We’ll steer clear.

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