I suspect I’m not alone in having a childhood filled with dogs as my primary companions and emotional “security blankets” – I’ll bet that an awful lot of you experienced that, too. Or you came to love and lean on dogs for friendship and comfort at another challenging time in your life. How do I know? Because it’s been my observation that people who are committed to their dogs to a degree that inspires them to subscribe to magazines tend to be highly emotionally invested in their canine companions.
Wonderfully, in my family, I wasn’t the only one who cried in my dog’s coat on a bad day, and who expressed great joy by running and racing around with our pack of family dogs; all of us were dog-lovers, including my parents. I wasn’t made fun of for considering our dogs as my best friends; each of my siblings had a special dog of his or her own. I challenge anyone to find a family portrait taken at our home (as opposed to one taken at a larger family gathering in one of our more urban aunts’ and uncles’ homes) that doesn’t have at least one dog in it. Some may contain four or five dogs!
I have a hunch that this is also true of all of WDJ’s dedicated contributors. I know it’s true of Training Editor Pat Miller; I’ve seen her childhood family photos, and they contain as many dogs as mine! And I would bet good money that it’s also true of trainer Laurie Williams, who has contributed a deeply personal story to this issue. Her story, about how she was saved from a life-threatening illness by a fellow dog trainer, demonstrates how the shared love of dogs can sometimes bind us humans together and inspire us to do good, selfless deeds.
Speaking of emotional dog-related experiences, my family recently lost a beloved canine: Hannah, my brother’s dog. Though Hannah grew a tad rickety toward the end of her 12-year lifespan, her warm and loving soul shined more and more brightly through her large, beautiful eyes as she aged. Hannah was dubious about the arrival of my niece Ava five years ago, but (with the help of a lot of treats in the first couple of years), she matured into Ava’s most devoted, protective companion – thus carrying on our family tradition for at least one more generation. Rest in peace, sweet Hannah. We miss you.