I am crazy about animals. I’ve had cats, rabbits, horses, cows, a snake, a baby armadillo, dogs, and more dogs. I’ve had pedigreed dogs, rescued dogs, mutts, curs, big dogs, bigger dogs, and 100+ pound dogs. Of all the dogs I’ve been blessed to know, it has been two golden retrievers whose paws captured the biggest pieces of my heart.
The first golden girl of my heart came to me when I was twelve and stayed by my side until cancer took her thirteen years later. Some folks may tell you goldens are not good watch dogs. They would be wrong! Mae was just ten months old the first time she came to my rescue. She and I were sitting on the porch of an old, closed feed store when a tall, lanky fellow in his forties came up and tried to talk me into going with him. I said no and started to leave. That’s when he grabbed me, and that’s when Mae went from being a big tail-wagging pup to Cujo. She jumped off the porch and landed on his back and held on. When she finally let go of him, he took off in one direction and Mae and I ran the other way.
The local sheriff told my parents that the man had been in the state mental hospital twice for molesting children. Now my momma didn’t believe in letting any animal except a goldfish live in her house. But from that night on, Mae slept next to my bed. My mother dubbed her my protector, and Mae rose to that role numerous times. Through high school, college, marriage, and divorce, Mae was always by my side.
The golden girl lying next to my chair tonight came to me as a puppy in 2004. In 2009, Jasmine and I decided to become a Pet Partner Therapy team (okay, I decided, but she liked the idea). After training for six months, we went to Billings to be tested. Jasmine made 100% on her tests and received the highest rating given to registered therapy dogs. We can go into mental hospitals and rehab centers, as well as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Jasmine loves getting her service vest on and heading out to bring comfort and cheer to those who need a little unconditional love. An added bonus for us is that our bond is stronger than ever. To be a good therapy dog, the dog must trust her human partner so much that she will obey her partner’s commands even when her animal instincts tell her to do something else. To have a friend that trusts you and loves you so unconditional is a rare and precious thing.
I’ve always lamented the fact that humans outlive our dogs. I read a great explanation from a six-year-old boy, Shane, who’d lost his dog to cancer. He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life—like loving everybody all the time and being nice. Right?” He continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
Sounds about right to me, Shane.
Thanks for stopping by,