Tag Archives: dogs

The Power of Love


We now have three dogs. We never intended to have three dogs. We actually never intended to have two dogs either, but that’s a story for another day. Our newest dog, Lady, is another golden retriever, our fourth. The first three have been absolutely wonderful dogs; we had no reason to believe she would be any different. We had no idea, however, what she would really become to our family.

No one is exactly sure how old Lady is. Our vet estimates between seven and ten, and that’s consistent with her history. She belonged to the aunt of a friend for most of her life, until the woman passed away last year. Until then a doted upon only child, Lady suddenly became an orphan, at an age when that can be dangerous for a dog. Her late owner’s sister–my friend’s mother–took her in temporarily, but she needed a permanent home. My friend posted her picture on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in taking her; one look, and I knew we were doomed.

We didn’t say yes right away. Megan was still in the hospital in Cincinnati, being assessed for a bone marrow transplant, and we couldn’t really think about it then. But Megan’s somewhat sudden recovery also made Lady suddenly possible. I called my friend. “We’re not sure you really want her”, we were told. She sleeps a lot, is partially deaf, has repeated ear infections and a cyst on her eye…not terribly different from our 11-year old golden. “Two half dogs should make a whole” was my response…we’ll take her.

My friends volunteered to make the entire drive themselves. When you live in Minnesota, you’ll take any excuse to get 700 miles farther south in the winter. We coordinated a date for her arrival and waited. Megan solved the concerning problem of not knowing her birthday by declaring that her arrival date into our family would now be her birthday: December 29. Lady arrived to birthday cupcakes in her honor; she was home.

Lady has spent the weeks since her arrival settling in. The three dogs moved from suspicion to truce to the affection of buddies. The humans, however, have been fond of her from day one. She’s a sweetie…mellow and well-behaved. But none of us took to her like Megan did. From that homemade cupcake on her first day here, Megan has doted on her. Her affection has been returned. Lady follows her everywhere, sleeps at her feet, is sad when she leaves. I don’t know if Megan’s recent ordeal has anything to do with their bond, but they seem to need each other. As Megan observed, they’re both even growing their hair back out together, after Lady’s trim to remove the mats in her thick fur.

It wasn’t an easy decision to take a new dog into our family, especially at her advanced age and after the overwhelming stress we all just passed through. But love–the fundamental belief that every creature deserves it, no matter their circumstances–won out. Just one more example of the incredible power of love and what can result when you give in–with faith–to its power.

“If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.” –Pablo Neruda


Discount Dog


Our youngest dog was the last of her litter, a leftover, and (we think) the runt. I somehow grossly misunderstood the price the breeder was charging; either she misadvertised or I simply erred, having looked at a lot of dogs online that day. It’s a good thing I did, or we’d have never gone to look at her in the first place.

I withdrew the exact amount of cash I thought she was asking, and we drove the half an hour out into the country. I assumed she was asking less than other breeders because she was a ways out of town. The dog wasn’t what we’d expected. We’ve had golden retrievers before, but this one was dark red with short hair. She was well past the standard six week weaning time with long adolescent legs–not the adorable, fluffy, golden puppy that graces so many dog food commercials. She looked odd, like a long-legged dachshund. She didn’t seem terribly bright or to have much personality. She was, in short, a disappointment.

But we’d made a tactical error: we’d brought the girls. They didn’t see what we saw, or they just had their hearts set on a new puppy. When I realized the gross difference between the asking price and the cash in my pocket, we started to walk away anyway. That is when fate intervened. It turns out the woman was desperate to get rid of this last puppy, realizing it was past its prime. I, too, was in the mood to negotiate, given the heartbroken girls I’d have had on the drive home. The owner accepted the cash I had on hand plus a modest check. It was done…the odd creature was ours.

As it turns out, our discount dog has proven invaluable. She is not beautiful, but she is very sweet. She is not smart, but she is the most loving creature I’ve ever met. She is not graceful, but she makes us laugh and brings much love into our house. We have decided that our discount dog has turned out to be one of the happiest accidents and best investments we’ve ever made. Thank heavens for misunderstandings.

“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.” –Kinky Friedman

She Fits

We got a new puppy the summer before last, just a few weeks after we lost our beloved Goldie to old age. We named her Winnie after the orphaned black bear nicknamed for Winnipeg by the Canadian Cavalry Regiment who adopted her as their mascot. They smuggled her into Britian when they were deployed during WWI. Winnie the bear lived the rest of her life at the London Zoo, where she was admired by the boy A.A. Milne, who later memorialized her in his famous books.

We weren’t sure at first about our own Winnie. Our other two golden retrievers have been blond, fluffy, smart, and loving. Winnie has short red hair with no hint of blonde, fluff, or frankly, intelligence. As a puppy, she looked like a dachshund with long legs. She didn’t have much of a personality for a long time. Like most puppies, she was a pain through the chewing and housebreaking stage. To be honest, for a good long while, we weren’t sure we’d done the right thing in getting another puppy. Maybe, we thought, we were too old for one.

After awhile, though, she learned to smile. You know what I mean, dogs can smile. And laugh. But the best part was that she also learned to hug. She may not have arms, but she pushes into you just so when you wrap yours around her. And she has that redeeming quality that dogs possess…unconditional love. Dogs don’t care if you’re rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, in a good mood or cranky. In fact, they seem to sense when you’ve had a bad day and need their special kind of love. Our puppy has that special sense and knows how to give you the love you need. She’s still a pain, but she’s our pain. She’s still not very smart, but she’s a doggie genius at love. In fact, the only thing special about her is that she’s ours. We love her because she’s family. That’s what family is. You love them because you belong to each other. Somehow, that’s always more than enough.

 “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”  –Josh Billings