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You know that moment, when your dog looks at you, eyes boring into your soul, melting your heart and telling you something (it almost feels like telepathic communication). Okay, it is 4:30 and it is feeding time, let us not deny they have needs and if met, they will be your best friend. A man's best friend. Such a true statement. I have always had a dog throughout my childhood and into adulthood. Each dog we had were all different, some mutts, rescue dogs, and pure breds. It didn't matter what kind of dog we had, they all had something in common, they bring you joy.
I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (Usher Syndrome: progressive blindness/deafness) when I was 16, of all times in my life, that was a period when I didn't have a dog. I was in denial and decided not to deal with this and stored this into the 'back room' of my brain. It was a flawless plan. Over the years, RP was becoming more prevelant and reentered to the 'front room' of my brain, alerting me to pay attention to what was happening. Life seemed so normal, married, raising a beautiful daughter, a career...then death struck, I lost my mother to cancer, I had to give up a dog (not long before my mom's death), give up my job, losing my vision and marriage was failing. My emotions were fraying from the fabric of my being and it was spiralling out of my control. And yet again, something was missing - a dog. Then came Lucy, a chocolate lab (was a rescue dog). I met her before, she along with another chocolate lab was abandoned at the Gymnastics Academy. I was volunteering at the office at the time and asked around if anyone knows of these two beautiful dogs. After a week, I called the SPCA. I had asked them to contact me if they come up for adoption. To my surprise, after 2 weeks I got the phone call. Nobody had claimed them, which made me sad. How can someone abandon two beautiful chocolate labs? After much debate with my husband, we came to an agreement that I am solely responsible for the dog. As we drove up the the pound, I could see her peeking through the fence, she just looked frightened and was not vocal like the other dogs. The SPCA called her 'Purdy" (like Purdy's Chocolate) and the other one 'Rocky'. Rocky was in the same pen and according to the staff, these two dogs were inseparable. I told my husband we have enough room for two dogs. I felt like I was the child begging to keep the two dogs. It was embarrassing and demeaning. I lost. So we adopted Purdy and left Rocky behind. As we were driving off, he yelped and howled till we were too far to hear him. It was heartwrenching and I cried.
I renamed Purdy to Lucy, it suited her personality - she was funny and clumsy. It was over a week that I had noticed Lucy didn't bark, she just sat on the kitchen floor and watched me all the time, observing her new owners and home. Even when someone was at the door, I often don't hear the knocking on the door, Lucy just sat quietly while I was going about my daily routine. So, I started to train her, to bark when someone at the door, some sign language for sit, stay and come. It was not long before she became my eyes and ears. She barked when someone was at the door, she helped me to 'see' when I dropped things on the floor, and was always ready and eager to help. After losing my mom, our puppy Millie, and my daugther in full time school, my weight was becoming a problem. Walking Lucy was a great start to improve my well being. We were out walking one day heading to the grocery store and coming down the hill was a runner. She was smiling and enjoying her run. It was as if she was a gazelle effortlessly running in the wild. I decided that day, I want to experience what she was experiencing and looking fit.
I would wait till I dropped off my daughter at school and walked down to the dike pathway so no one would see my attempt at running. Lucy was always happy to run. We would start out running and after about 20 seconds my lungs were burning, and I was gasping for breath, everything was hurting. I thought to myself, this is horrible! I can't even run 50 yards! It was then I remembered that woman running down the hill. I was determined to give this a go. So Lucy, with her energetic strides encourage me to go. It took me a few months before I could run 2 miles without stopping. I was elated, Lucy and I became a running team. She was looking trim and I started to lose weight. Running became my therapy. That year, I joined the newly formed running club and continued my journey to fitness. Lucy would train with me 3 days a week running and the off days we would do long walks or hiking. We were inseparable. After serveral months of training for my first 1/2 marathon I had lost 30lbs and then following year for my first full marathon I lost 47lbs. Lucy was a dog that saved me. She saved me from depression, improved my health and my loneliness. Sadly, she died of cancer (8 years ago). Losing her was like losing my best friend, my vision was worsening, depression was creeping back up on me and life just seemed hard. It was not till a year later, my daughter asked me to go with her to look at a dog, I was hesitant. She begged and said, you will love him, he is beautiful and needs a new home. It turns out, her friend's sister had this dog that needed to have a home because of the other dogs were bullying him and she had her hands full with a toddler and baby on the way. I agreed with my daughter to take him - I saw him, he is certainly a beautiful dog. I was determined not to get too attached to him too soon. We brought him home, my husband was not happy that I took him, I couldn't understand why, he never looked after Lucy so it was not like he had responsibilities for our Lucy. Determined to have a good dog, I worked with him to train him to all the things necessary to have a dog that is well behaved and to assist me.
Turns out he was very different from Lucy - I guess I should expect that. I renamed him Dudley (Doug was his original name, changed it because I had 3 friends named Doug and it just didn't sit well with me) and he also a chocolate lab. Not long after my marriage broke down (been a long time coming), I packed up with what little stuff I had and the dog (because I knew if I left the dog, he would not have the same care), and moved in with a friend, now my fiancé. It was during that time when bonding really started to happen with Dudley, I was accepting the difference of personality between the two dogs, he is sweet, lazy, smart and adventerous but loyalty is still a bit lacking. Or is he just a happy social dog that loves to go with other people and come home just as happy? He is now my running buddy, he helps me by pulling so I would not veer onto the road. He keeps me safe and actually uses his head to nudge me at every juction we approach, sometimes he stops dead in his tracks and unbeknownst to me a car drives by. There were many close calls, I just have to learn to trust him, after all, I am sure he doesn't want to get hit by a car either! And yes! he fetches my slippers too. As it turns out, Dudley is a great dog and he comes with us almost everywhere we go. He is always ready with the leash in his mouth for the next run or adventure.
Do you have a dog? Pet? Guide/support dog? So you understand my story. For those who never had a dog or always wanted to but afraid to, what is stopping you? Committment? Yes, it is a big commitment but comes with lots of benefits. Cost? Yes, cost can be a factor, but if you look after your dogs health and well being, that surely can reduce vet bills! It is a life changing addition to your life. Allergies? Consider talking to your doctor about getting allergy shots and research what type of dog suits you. If you don't want to commit to have a dog for very long, consider fostering at your local SPCA/ASPCA, become a puppy raiser for guide/therapy dogs (up to 18 months committment), or just visit the pound and volunteer to walk/feed/clean them. These are all good ways to have some of that canine love and who knows, as time goes by you will be ready to have a dog to be part of your life for many years.
Having a dog is a dogs bollocks! (It means fantastic by the way!)
https://www.puppyspot.com/ FIND ALL KINDS OF BREEDS/RESOURCES OF DOG BREEDERS AND FOR DOG OWNER
http://www.spca.bc.ca/ READY TO ADOPT? VOLUNTEER? FOSTER?
http://bcandalbertaguidedogs.com/volunteer/ VOLUNTEER OR DONATE, LEARN MORE ABOUT PUPPY RAISING
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