I’ve always loved dogs, but have taken them for granted. No matter how annoying they can be, I believe God game them to us as companions and protectors. You don’t know how much you depend on and love your animal until you lose it. We had a beautiful Australian shepherd – Sandy - the first dog we raised as a family until August of 2010. In fact, we lost her on the kids’ first day of school. She was run over just a couple of hours after we took our kids to school.
We got Sandy as a puppy and she cost us a lot of money with the things she chewed through – swimming pools, wires on trailers, weed eaters, cats. She also jumped on everyone. Those things really frustrated us and made us have second thoughts about owning a dog again.
However, she had good qualities as well. Although she never barked at a person and greeted every person that drove up to our house like they were family, she had a sixth sense about rattlesnakes. She knew they were bad and would bark like crazy until we came out and dealt with it.
Her herding qualities were noticed one Sunday morning when my son and nephew woke us up early to tell us that Sandy had managed to herd about 20 head of cattle into our average-sized back yard out in the country. Some cows had gotten out somewhere down the road, and she had them all huddled into a corner of our backyard between a barbed wire fence and some thick brush.
She was also a wonderful playmate to my children. They would sometimes tire of Sandy’s constant affection, but would miss her if she was off out in the pasture. The day they came home from their first day of third grade and Kindergarten, I broke the news to them about Sandy’s death. They both burst into tears, and it took them some time to get over her. They were both more concerned that it hurt her when she died. My then five-year-old daughter would spend time where she was buried, talking to her. She placed flowers on her little grave. My son had a hard time thinking about getting another dog because there could never be one like Sandy.
That’s how I was. I didn’t want to go through the heartbreak of losing another dog we had raised only after a few years, and hated the idea of possibly having to break that sort of news to my kids again.
But they soon got over it and now enjoy reminiscing about times with her without tears. I suppose owning animals and learning to deal with their deaths is good life experience for them. And I had gotten so used to a sweet dog greeting me before I could even get out of my car. It hurt when I expected to see Sandy, and then remembered she was buried by our pond.
Although we had talked about it many times, we never really started looking for a dog, but our newest addition to the family found us. He actually found my grandmother first around Christmas time when we were all over visiting. We figured someone dumped another dog out in the country. I am told he is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He has beautiful golden fur.
He soon found his way to my parents’ across the field, but didn’t mix well with their two male dogs, so we gladly took him to our home when asked. My son chose to name him Tony – named after some of his favorite “Tonys,” Tony Romo and Tony Hawk.
We’re glad to have our new companion and protector. Although I don’t see him as a big, tough watch dog, he brings a sort of calm to me, knowing he’s out there barking away coyotes and bobcats and such. I am also granted some peace of mind knowing he’s outside with my kids when I’m not.
He now keeps the varmints away from our front porch and is a great companion on walks. He is much calmer than Sandy because he’s a bit older. And so far his only annoying habit is he doesn’t know how to play fetch, but instead will run away with a ball if he gets his paws on it – something that greatly annoys my nine-year-old boy when trying to play baseball. However, Dustin is glad his mouth isn’t big enough to run off with the basketball.
I know we’ll lose this dog eventually, but I will gladly take one of these good things God has given us and enjoy while I can. I will enjoy an earthly form of an angel that makes life more enjoyable… more bearable. I guess life is too short to worry about losing every good thing I’m granted. Besides, I am sure there are even better gifts in store.
Kimberly Gray is a Nolan County native, now raising two children with her husband in her home community of Champion. She works full-time as a technical writer for a local company, but enjoys freelance writing in her spare time.