I grew up in a family that loved dogs. Each of us four kids had our “own” dog at some point growing up, and we also had some dogs who were just indiscriminately part of the family, belonging to no one in particular. The high point of the family’s dog ownership – or perhaps low point, the way I see it as a responsible dog owner today – came during the years when I was about five to 10 years old. During that period of time, I can safely say we always had at least five adult dogs (the number changed frequently). And in the year that I was about 7, we had three different females who all had litters of puppies within a few weeks of each other. Puppies were everywhere! I was in heaven!
For perspective, that was 1970. Spay/neuter surgery was unheard-of. We lived in a rural area in Northern California, and our dogs slept outside (with a few exceptions for the purebred miniature Poodle and a male and a female Cocker Spaniel we owned for a time) and mostly ran free – meaning, not one of my childhood dogs lived into anything like old age. Many died after being run over by cars. That seems outrageous today, but it was normal then. Most of my childhood friends had also lost dogs because they had been hit by cars. (It was so common that veterinarians used an acronym for it: HBC.)
My dogs were my buddies.
I was the youngest of the four kids in my family by five years, which meant that when I was 7, my siblings were 12, 13, and 14. None of them wanted to hang out with me! And the closest kids my age lived a mile away!
So, it was dogs who kept my childhood from being really pretty lonely, although I never would have recognized any of that as truth at the time. What I did know is that the dogs were always there for me, always ready to play a game, snuggle, or go exploring with me. They were there when my feelings were hurt by the rejection of my exasperated older brother and his friends (there were a lot of boys his age who lived close to us, he had plenty of friends to choose from). They were there when my parents were loudly fighting about something (now I can understand; my parents were so young! And with that many kids – and dogs! – money was always tight). They waited with me (at the roadside!) for the school bus in the morning, gleefully ran to greet my school bus in the afternoon, and on days with no school, kept me company all day long.
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Which is why this video resonated so much with me. Made by a wonderful organization (Pets Add Life) whose only purpose seems to be to promote the adoption of pets from shelters, it brought me right back to why I connected so much with dogs when I was a kid – a connection that has continued through to today. Whose dog has not soaked up some tears or joined in a celebratory dance?
Share the story of what your dog has gotten you through – and share the video! If you follow the link to the website, it points you to adoptable animals in your area –nice!