His dreamy eyes (I call them goo goo eyes) look at me as though he’s known me forever. His heart bursts open with uninhibited love every time I walk through the door, jumping for joy to see me. For years I’ve wondered what made this little dog choose me to be his mom when he had his pick of contenders. I ask him that question repeatedly and all he does is look deep into my eyes, smile and wag his tail.
In June Pogo and I will celebrate nine years as a family. June 9, to be exact, the day before my birthday during a fateful evening walk around the neighborhood. I’d been hearing stories of a little brown dog that showed up, sneaking around at night devouring food left outside by sympathetic neighbors. But he’d let no-one touch him. Until June 9. When we laid eyes on each other for the first time.
Then he jumped all over me like he’d been searching a lifetime for ME! I sat down in the street and the little guy smothered me with affection, rolling upside down in my lap, covering my face with sloppy kisses. If he could speak he’d have screamed, OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!!! I FOUND YOU!
Deep in my soul I think I know where Pogo came from. Now for the back story…
More than 10 years ago my neighbors’ house burned down, the tragic result of a living room candle flame gone awry. That fire stole much of what those people held dear — from photos to wedding presents to pets. They lost a cat and a dog in the tragedy, rendering themselves numb and the rest of the neighborhood.
I was traumatized too, not only because such a horrible thing instantly wiped out a lifetime of collections for my friendly neighbors, but because their dog and I had a special bond. Spike was my walking buddy. He was a precious miniature Schnauzer with a giant personality and feisty spirit. Everyday he waited for me to pass his house during my walks so he could accompany me home for hugs and treats.
He had this quirky little trot as we made our way to my house. In the middle of a run he’d lift his back right leg and hop on the remaining three until we reached the corner. He did this often enough to inspire me to check into his health only to learn that the vet was as perplexed by the behavior as we were. He never found anything wrong with that leg. It was just a “Spike thing” I suppose, a trait that endeared him to me even more. In fact, Nanette often teased me that she’d know exactly where to look should Spike “forget” to come home sometime. My heart was broken when my little friend was taken from our lives and I mourned his loss for months.
Fast forward a year or so to my historic walk around the neighborhood that lucky evening on June 9, when Pogo and I met. From that day on we’ve walked the neighborhood together just about everyday.
And for the first few months as we’d pass Nanette’s and Spike’s now rebuilt home, Pogo would pick up his back right leg and hop to the corner.
And now you have the whole story. No kidding
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Posted in animal, animals, childhood, dogs, family, horses, memories, Uncategorized, tagged animal rescue, animals, commentary, dogs, Equestrian, Sports on September 24, 2011 |
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Image by AlicePopkorn via Flickr
Recently I find myself revisiting memories of my childhood that laid the foundation for who I am today and the direction life is taking me. Back then is when I discovered a love for animals and a palpable need to commune with them. That bond occupies a large part of my life today and can trigger flashbacks to earlier days.
Take morning walks with my dog Pogo for example. He dances for joy each time we leave the house as though this tour of my wooded neighborhood is the first in his life. Actually, he knows every square inch of it because during his month as a stray he foraged for food among our trees until the day he decided that I’d be his mom. Though I’ve always longed for a dog, he’s my first one and the love of my life. Believe me, it’s mutual and he loves our daily excursions where we visit with neighbors and fellow canines.
As Pogo and I reach the crest of a hill, I catch my first glimpse of Marley who’s already thumping her tail in anticipation of our visit. She’s a beautiful Lab mix that belongs to a neighbor but she’s adopted us as family members too. She can barely wait for me to sit down before plopping herself on my lap for hugs and kisses. Together we enjoy the beautiful view of the Tennessee River and the Smokey Mountains beyond. And I’m transported back to that nine-year old child who used to visit the collie around the corner. Together Bow and I would crawl into our fort in the bushes and snuggle. She helped me through some tough times back then, laying her head on my lap and cooing soft sounds as I cried out my troubles and accepted her soothing licks on my face. We loved each other and it broke my heart when she died. While I silently reminisce Marley looks up and smiles. I think she knows.
There’s also a real familiarity at the barn where I spend Tuesday mornings with rescue horses. They’re very sensitive creatures and have always tugged at my heart. Maybe the seed was planted when we kids went with my father to his business and visited Murphy, a gorgeous Palomino gelding. He’d jump on that horse’s back and take off as though the two were born as one. My father was happiest on a horse and we went riding many Sunday mornings along the Wissahickon River into Valley Green, outside of Philadelphia. We’d walk and talk while my father oozed vitality and a freedom of spirit that was contagious. I fell in love with horses too and now when I’m at the barn feeding, grooming, turning out and mucking – I think of those days and smile. And they look at me with those soulful, knowing eyes as if to acknowledge an understanding of our bond.
Over the years so much has changed while so much of me has stayed the child I used to be. I guess that’s what it means to realize your essence.
What events trigger memories for you – and what are those memories and how have they defined who you are today?
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