Whole Dog Journal's Blog July 1, 2014

Portrait of Three Dogs in My Family

Posted at 09:04AM - Comments: (12)


Hannah is a 12-year-old Ridgeback-mix, about 70 pounds of lean muscle and bone. Sheís a constant companion to my brother, who adopted her from a shelter when she was about six months old (and who is coping with a dire prognosis right now), and to my brotherís daughter, who is almost five years old, and to my brotherís father-in-law, who has Alzheimers. Thatís a lot of canine support and therapy to provide, but Hannah pulls it off with grace and patience. Sheís more or less constantly pushing her big beautiful head into somebodyís hands, or leaning her gradually weakening, aging body into somebodyís legs. ďIím right here, pet me and we will both feel better,Ē her huge, shining eyes seem to say.


Sadie is supposed to be a miniature Schnauzer, and she looks sort of like a Schnauzer, but she came from what was probably a puppy mill in Kentucky when she was just a tiny puppy, so thereís no telling what she actually is, besides 7 pounds of nerves and sweetness. Sheís my daughter-in-lawís dog, and has been by her side through a number of lifeís turns, both difficult andrewarding. She has a shrill, ear-piercing bark that she uses a tad too frequently, and she hasnít been trained to do anything in particular, but she, too, soaks up human attention like a sponge and rains affection back upon anyone who treats her well.


Otto is my own mixed-breed dog, nearly seven years old and wise. He always knows when Iím feeling down, and positions himself nearby. Heís too polite to whine or paw at me, but will put his chin on my leg as I sit at the computer, and gaze at me patiently. He stands at the gate every time I go to the car without him, clearly analyzing what Iím wearing and what Iím carrying in order to understand where Iím going and when Iím likely to be back. He knows the blue daypack means an overnight absence, and he looks especially bereft when he sees it. On the other hand, he can pick out the sounds of my car from blocks away, and heís always dancing, wagging, whining, happy at the gate as I pull up to the house.

I donít have a point today. Iím just so damn grateful sometimes for these dogs and the love they add to my extended family.

Comments (12)

I love your writing, Ms. Kerns and this article is no exception. You have captured the way they express how they love us, without words but so vividly that I have never felt more loved, never felt so cherished. I dread the day in the future when she will leave me and I sometimes think that it will be the last day of my life, as well.

Posted by: Sara's Mom | July 2, 2014 5:51 PM    Report this comment

I too am lucky to be owned by a dog. She is 11 months old, a yellow lab with crippling separation anxiety. She is smart and strong and gentle, but constantly worried about my actions. Does my changing my shoes mean I'm going somewhere? Does me walking into the bedroom where her crate is mean she's going in it while I leave to do errands? The poor thing never looks happy unless she is having one on one time with me. Hopefully, she will learn to relax and enjoy more of life!

Posted by: medassist | July 2, 2014 5:39 AM    Report this comment

It's wonderful to read such comments from so many obviously loving pet-parents. All my long life I was a feline lover and had never had a dog. That changed about 4 yrs ago when a close friend told me she had just adopted a dog from her local shelter. She sent a picture and I emailed her saying I was envious! She then told me there were more pups at the shelter from the same mom (14 pups in this litter!) Long story short...she got me one just like hers! This sweet pooch has become the love of my life! In fact, she looks so much like the pictured Hannah I did a double-take! We had a DNA test done and she is actually of 7 breeds! An amazing athlete, loves H2O, submissive without being a coward, not a single bad habit from day 1 and happy, happy, happy! ME TOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Beezoar | July 2, 2014 12:19 AM    Report this comment

After my fifteen-year-old Chihuahua passed away in December I once again vowed no more dogs since I am in a senior community. This belief lasted all of one month until I found my precious Chippet from a rescue group nearby. She is four, housebroken, loves me unreservedly, and is the sweetest companion I have ever had (including two husbands!) With her long, long legs she can leap from one piece of furniture to another like a gazelle, but she is so graceful she never even disturbs a cushion. Wherever I am is where she wants to be. The only times I leave her are if I have to go somewhere she would have to stay in the car for a while, and it is much too hot for that now here in Georgia. I realized recently that all my best friends are dog lovers as I am. Guess I just took that for granted all along! To anyone needing love and comfort, please get one or more rescue dogs; both of you will be blessed.

Posted by: perusich@yahoo.com | July 1, 2014 5:23 PM    Report this comment

This entry was exactly what I needed to read today as my little Yorkie, who is the love of my life, has been driving me CRAZY lately. The windows are open in my apartment and she is barking at everything she hears outside and everything she apparently hears INSIDE that I don't. Like the wind blowing the curtains. She wakes up in the middle of the night runs up and down the ramp to my bed barking at some perceived THING she hears. My landlords are my friends and the husband died recently, and I swear he visits to play with her still and THAT is what she is barking at!!

So, I have been sleep deprived, my patience is wearing very thin with this little doggie, but after reading this blog entry, I realize how lucky I am to have this nutty dog in my life. Even though I do want to strangle her, she never fails to make me laugh, licks my face every morning to wake me up and looks at me with these - I love you mummy - eyes all the time. What can be better than that??

Posted by: Sportschick | July 1, 2014 4:04 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for sharing. All of you. Sometimes my dogs make me so mad, I would like to wring their necks, just like my husband and daughter. I love them more than anything in the world, just like my husband and daughter. They are what makes life worthwhile and gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. One has to love them and enjoy them as much as possible, because their time here is all too short. I saw the perfect bumper sticker "A Dog Is The Only Relative You Get To Choose".

Posted by: KKBaker | July 1, 2014 3:51 PM    Report this comment

Eight years ago we lost all 3 of our dogs within 6 weeks of each other; our heartbreak was overwhelming. A few weeks later I saw a small dog walking along a very busy street. I went to check on him. He was a Chihuahua, no collar/tags, very thin, fleas, some scars. I took him home, tried to find his owner, but to no avail, so he became ours. I knew nothing about the breed except "nervous & yappy," but he turned out to be the BEST dog I've ever had -- calm, smart and the most loving little guy. Life often sends you just what you need and now, along with two other rescues, we're back to being a 3-dog family!

Posted by: dogluv | July 1, 2014 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Life was pretty grim at our house after the last of our 3dog pack passed. Fortunately we were rescued by a little scruff of a terrier mix who exactly filled us and our house with joy and laughter again. We hadn't planned on another dog so fast, but I swear the spirits of our 3dog pack planned this out. I cannot believe what an excellent dog our Leya has been from day one.
So yes, there is a point to your blog entry for the day, it's about love shared.

Posted by: 3grrrs | July 1, 2014 12:41 PM    Report this comment

I know just how you feel. I am so grateful that my little, 5 year old, male MiKi came into my life when he was two. My family does not live nearby and as I am a 87 year old female, most of my friends have passed away. This little loving dog has enhanced my older years more than I can say. I am so happy with his excitement to see me when I come home from running errands and his wanting to be near me when I am home, He is a blessing.

Posted by: littleone | July 1, 2014 11:13 AM    Report this comment

My dog is 14.6 years and I adore her. All my years of dog training with her have gone to pot. She knows I love every second of her badness. :)

Posted by: My life is K9 | July 1, 2014 10:46 AM    Report this comment

Having just lost our hyper, loving 12.5 yr old Maggie, I'm very aware of how much she added to our family; it's painfully obvious from her sudden absence. We're all so mutually lucky to find each other, our dog friends and ourselves. What a unique relationship they give us, filling a niche that no one and nothing else can. Grateful, grateful, even as I mourn her loss.

Posted by: Deco | July 1, 2014 10:29 AM    Report this comment

Your family is fortunate in its family dogs.

Posted by: gotrr | July 1, 2014 10:24 AM    Report this comment

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