Life is What Happens

The title of my blog "Life is what happens" was inspired by a song which John Lennon wrote for his son. The lyrics of "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" contain the famous Lennon quote, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Dogs and Life

The purpose of this blog is to share and preserve some of my history in the hopes that someday my grandson (or whoever) will be able to access my thoughts on a given day of my life.  At the age of 11, my grandson doesn't care to know anything so personal about me but maybe a time will come when he will.

Today I'm thinking about all of the dogs I've had in my life.  I have had many.  The list is long, and it will be a good test of my memory to see if I can name them all.  Because I was an only child who lived in the "country" and had no children my age to play with, my dogs were always my best friends and confidants. 

The year I was born was the year my father got Sissy for me.  Sissy was a smooth haired fox terrier, and I had her until I was ten years old.  We lived one mile out of town on the Hico Highway and did not have a fence around our yard.  The highway was busy for that day and time, and Sissy spent much of her time crossing it back and forth especially if a rabbit or other dog was across the road.  On more than one occasion Sissy had a close call with a car or truck but she had enough road smarts to avoid getting hit.  Because Sissy was not "fixed" she had litters of puppies in her bed in the garage as often as nature and a stray male dog provided.  When our home burned in 1950 Sissy sat on a blanket in the yard with me while we watched the house burn to the ground.  She put her head in my lap and didn't look up.  I dressed Sissy up in my doll clothes and pushed her around in my doll carriage.  She didn't mind.

Out of the many litters of puppies Sissy had, my parents only let me keep one.  I named him Tuffy and for some reason I identified with his personality him more than my friend Sissy's.  Sissy was loving and calm; Tuffy was an active clown.   One hot summer day Tuffy saw the water well pump dripping cool water.   His decision to get a drink had a lasting impression.  The pump came down on Tuffy's tongue & sliced it almost in half.  I saw it happen and heard Tuffy scream.

Back in the 1950's no one used a vet for their dogs.  Vets were for cows and horses, so I am sure none of my dogs got shots or went in for treatment if they were hurt.  Tuffy bled for a long time and wouldn't let us near him.  Finally he calmed down, and it never seemed to bother him again although he had a dangling tongue for the rest of his life.  It was actually pretty funny-looking because when he opened his mouth the first thing you saw was a cute little dog with tongue quartered and floppy.

I cannot remember how Sissy died, but I know Tuffy was run over by a car on the Hico Highway.  It was a sad day for me.  I think I was 13 or 14. 

Next, Dad brought home a Border Collie we named Rain.  I don't know why or remember much about her because I was so busy with high school, I never formed a bond with her. She was a good girl but no match in my heart for my first two dog loves.

No one at 19 knows what they are doing.  Why do our laws allow marriage before the age of at least 25? I married too young at 19 and was certainly didn't need a dog while I was in college.  Nevertheless, I told my husband I had to have a dog because I had never been without one.  We bought a beagle and named it Bangle.  It was such a sweet dog but it taught me that beagles will chew on anything in sight, including furniture, rugs, and plastic.  My fondest memory of Bangle was looking up one day and seeing her coming toward me with a deer antler in her mouth.  It stuck out of her mouth & made her look like Santa's reindeer.  She was a pretty worthless dog but filled that gap.

In my fourth year of college, I bought a Great Dane from a well-known breeder in San Antonio.  It was so expensive that I had to pay it out $25/month for 10 months.  I loved that dog, of course, but I had him during a time in my life where his boring personality fit my stage of life.  We named him Charro and had him for many years.  I have a picture of my son Jeff riding him.  We moved back to our hometown after college, and once again, we lived on a major highway.  This time Charro got the best of the traffic.  He was in the road one day, and a tiny little foreign car hit him as he crossed.  The car had to be towed away after Charro spent a few minutes barking angrily at it. 

My dad had an El Ranchero car, and he loved to pick Charro up and take him to Jake & Dorothy's Café in the mornings.  My dad & Charro became a well-known site in our hometown since it was unusual to see a large dog standing flat-footed in the back of a truck with his head towering over the top of the cab.

Charro met his end when a well-meaning Elizabeth Taylor lookalike neighbor lady fed him table scraps.  We found him dead in the front yard one day.  She screamed and cried when she realized what she had done. The autopsy showed his stomach was full of slivered rib bones that had punctured his insides. 

Along with Charro, I had an apricot poodle named Michelle.  She and Charro were buddies, and she would pick up his leash and lead him around the yard. 

Next dog fate took me to the children's dog of all dogs.  In 1982 I bought a Lassie Collie pup from a man selling them out of the back of his truck at the corner of a busy intersection.  Out of curiosity, I stopped.  This adorable puppy of all puppy faces in the world was a perfect picture.  She became Sissy in honor of my first dog.

We had Sissy 2 for 10 years and let her have one litter of puppies.  She was as smart and affectionate as Lassie the tv star.  Once again I had unknowingly chosen a dog personality to match my stage of life.  My children were young, so appropriately enough I was blessed with a dog who takes care of children like Timmy.  She died from being suspiciously poisoned with anti-freeze.  It was horrible watching her suffer but there was nothing the vet could do for her.  The mystery of her executioner was officially never solved but we suspect it had something to do with a string of robberies at our barn.  The thief was routinely backing up his truck into our barn every so often and stealing cattle feed.  I'm sure he wanted to get rid of Sissy so she couldn't alert us. 

After Sissy, I got a string of fox-terriers, some smooth-haired, some wire-haired, but all of them were fun.  Fox terriers can be the most charming, silly, and entertaining dogs.  It was during a time in my 40's when life suddenly became fun and interesting. 
Our family favorite terrier was one that each of us named.  I named him Tuffy then the rest of the family members came up with their own.  His official name became Tuffy Alphonso Bingo Barney.  We called his full four names out, and he came on the 4th time.  Later his name extended even further to Tuffy Alphonso Bingo Barney Bouncing Baby Boy.  What a guy he was!

Then there was Annie my serene black and white Border Collie who was an escape artist deluxe.  By their nature, Border Collies love to roam and "look for work".  We made a fence for Annie but she always found a way to get out.  Annie brought me gifts from the neighbors' yards frequently.  One day I found a fully opened umbrella in the yard, and another time there was a large doll.  Annie was stolen from me, and it broke my heart.  I made posters and put them up everywhere.  There was no internet then for a quick way to get the word out.

Next, I got one of my favorite dogs of all time, and that was Lace.  Her fancy registered name was Arsenic & Old Lace, and she was from the show dog world.  I entered her in a couple of shows but she didn't do well because she was below the standard size.  Lace was an awesome companion and so quiet and dignified.  Her most distinguishable characteristic was her "singing".  The lady who raised Lace from a tiny runt puppy carried her around in her apron pocket and sang to her.  Lace learned to sing and would howl anytime she heard someone singing.  We spent many hours laughing at Lace's cute little curled up mouth as she sang.  Lace was just like her name, and that's how she was relative to my life stage.

While I had Lace it became necessary for me to find a guard dog to deter someone who was threatening me and my property.  While I was in Puerto Vallarta with two friends, I met a Doberman who scaired the life out of me.  I had never feared a dog before that but when I was met at a door by a powerful barking Dobie, I paid attention.  The light bulb idea appeared over my head, and I knew a Doberman was the answer to my security problem. 

My Doberman Kobi came from Austin.  He had lived in a crate the first six months of his life because his owners worked all day and didn't choose to socialize him when they were at home.  I lived on 28 acres in the country and had lots of land for a dog to run on.  The day Kobi first came to my house, and we let him off of the leash, he ran in huge circles all over the pasture.  I have never seen a happier dog.  He had never experienced anything like it.  Kobi turned out to be my protector and my Velcro dog.  He lived in the house with me, slept on the floor by my bed, and rode in my Jeep Cherokee wherever I went.  He got along beautifully with Lace who was the Alpha Dog.  Kobi and I became free about the same time, so we definitely were a team.

Kobi was amazing with sharp intellect and acute hearing.  I never felt so safe in my life even when I went outside at night.  Kobi adored me and Lace but unfortunately only tolerated others because I insisted.  My first red flag with Kobi was when he bit a friend who had raised Dobermans.  He nipped him on the ankle but the friend insisted it was okay and that Kobi was just protecting his family's place. 

We had two really nice fishing tanks on the far side of my property.  One day I saw two men who had climbed the adjoining fence & were fishing at our tank.  I put Kobi in the back of the Jeep and drove down to check it out.  I drove up on the dam, and rolled my window down.  They could not see Kobi.

"Hi, who told you that it would be okay to fish here?", I asked politely.

The men ignored me, so I asked again.  Finally, one of the men rudely answered me that "the owner" had given the permission.  I told them I was the owner and wanted them to leave.  They started to curse at me, so I slowly rolled down the back window, and Kobi stuck his head out and barked like he wanted to kill them.  Needless to say, they gathered their gear and got out of there immediately.  It was the fastest I have ever seen two men jump a fence.  Good job, Kobi.  That's exactly what I needed you for at this point in my life. 

One of the two hardest days of my life came when I had to give Kobi up.  Kobi did not take kindly to cats or kids.  Enough said.  A baby boy came into the family, and I was petrified that Kobi would not be happy about that.  After all, he had already proved he could bite a visitor to our home.

I didn't think I could do it.  I didn't want to do it, so it took me a while to find the perfect home for Kobi.  A young married couple had just lost their beloved & pampered Doberman.  They were looking for a mature dog instead of a pup.  It was a perfect fit, and the baby would be safe.  Trials of introducing Kobi to the baby had not gone well, and I would have always been apprehensive. 

I will never forget the day of the transfer or the look on my buddy's face as I handed them the leash.  Kobi literally kept looking over his shoulder at me & whined like a baby as he was led away. He had been my Velcro dog who followed my every step in the house for 5 years. He was my protector when I needed him, but now someone needed me more. 

The couple who took him loved him so much.  He was their only child in a childless marriage.  They sent me pictures & letters for a long time. They dressed him in bandanas & coats.  He rode in the boat with them.  His life was good but I have always felt guilty and wondered if he still grieved for me as I did for him.

Of course, I got a precious little boy in his place who eventually followed my steps as the dog had done for so long, and I would make the same choice again.

Bella is the last one.  Bella is what her name says also.  Beautiful.  Bella is not classically beautiful but she's darn cute.   She has a row of crooked teeth but the eyes of a guardian angel.  She is Maltese/Shih Tzu/Part-Poodle, i.e. a dog like I never imagined.  Her face stares at me intently.
Whether Bella sleeps with me or my grandson, she always lays exactly on the opposite corner of the bed and doesn't bother us until we stir in the morning.  But she's up and ready as soon as she sees any movement then kisses face then jumps to the floor.

She loves to play with her "babies" which are toys she flings about as if to kill them.  This is Bella's only aggressive trait....trying to kill her beloved babies.  Her favorite toy is a green dragon.  She knows its whereabouts at all times.

Bella is my companion in a different way.  I got her for my grandson, so we say she is his dog.  She does her duty and endures his playful silliness with her.  He loves her dearly and only seems to overlove her because of the joy she gives him. 

When I started this post, I had no idea what I would discover from writing about my dogs.  It is obvious that my dog relationships and their personalities came as a result of my subconscious needs at the time.  My dogs have served me when I needed them, and I have repaid them by loving them purely and treating them with respect.  Talking to them like they understand me has always been how I do it.  We talk to our true friends and constant companions.  What in life is better than that?


I mentioned on Facebook that I would post on my blog any stories someone sends to me about their beloved dogs. 

The first story comes from my friend Kay.

During the time Frank was in the hospital those 99 long days, I had to euthanise my 20 year old poodle as she was too stressed, and the vet thought it best. I could not do it, so waited until Mike was home and gave him the honors. We wrapped her up and put her in my Mother's deep freeze until Mike went back to Houston, and the next time he came home, he brought her ashes which I will have buried with me. I have never been without a dog and have always said I would never be, but I expected Frank to be in and out of the hospital the rest of his life so I vowed, No more dogs!

Frank came home from the hospital on Dec 9th, 2008, and on May 1, 2009 a cute little picture of a Shih Tzu puppy was published in our weekly paper. He was at our animal shelter waiting to be adopted. I resisted because I thought it best, but later in the day, Frank saw the picture and said, "I'm going to see if that dog is still there".

It really surprised me as he has never really cared for dogs but had just tolerated my love for them and sometimes not too well at that. The dog was still there, so he asked if he could take him to my work and show him to me, and of course, they said it was OK. He arrived at my work, came in with the dog and told me he was bringing him for my approval, but it did not matter what I thought because they had already bonded.

This has been the best thing to ever happen to him as he absolutely adores Beau and will not hesitate to tell you so and will go on to say he does not know what he would do without him. They go riding daily and when the weather permits, we take him to Fort Worth with us when we go to the doctor and usually get him groomed while we are there.   If not one other good thing comes from his illness, his finding how wonderful the love of a dog can be is worth a million.

Thank you, Kay.  We can see that this dog fit your and your husbands needs at this stage of your lives. 

This is written by my cousin Lucinda.

When my children Lacey and Lucas were little, we found out that my sister's dog was going to have puppies. The kids were VERY excited, especially Lacey. She has always loved animals from the time she was a little girl.
We happened to be in Texas for a visit when it was close to the time the puppies were supposed to be born. Lacey had been waiting and waiting, but the day before we were flying back to Wisconsin, the puppies still had not made their debut. She was extremely sad and worried she would miss it.
That night, we prayed. Her prayer was simple and sweet, "Dear God, PLEASE, please, please help the puppies to be born, I really want to see them before I go home, In Jesus name, AMEN. "
As a mom, I was sending up prayers as well. Life is full of disappointments, but as a parent, you hate to see your child sad, even if it something as simple as seeing a puppy born. 
Lacey went to bed that night hoping and trusting in her prayer. We all went to bed, hoping and trusting with her. About 2am one of us woke up to the sound of a crying puppy who was searching for his mommy.   
My parents had fixed Holly (the mommy dog) a nice place in their garage. The first puppy she had, made it over a step and to the garage door that connected to the house. That puppy was not very happy that he couldn't find his mommy. Thanks that little puppy's cry of help, it woke us up. Of course we took the puppy back over to his mommy, and quickly woke up Lacey and Lucas.
We found a spot garage in the garage, and we watched more puppies enter the world. I can't even tell you how big the smile was on Lacey's face. Not only were the puppies here, but God had heard and answered her prayer. Her faith in Him was sealed that night.
It was a simple thing, but that event was shaped the lives of my children.
That very night, Lacey picked out her dog and we named her Casey. She became known as the dog Lacey prayed for and she was special to our family
We had to wait about 4 months to get Casey to Wisconsin. My parents took care of her, and brought her here on their next trip. She was the dog Lacey and Lucas grew up playing with every day. She was the dog that chewed up their toys, ran with them in the yard, and was a constant companion to them.
Loran and I loved her as well, and Casey and I developed a special bond too. She was a very sweet and loving dog to our whole family.
When she was about ten years old, we found out she had cancer in her jaw. (even now my eyes are tearing up) The only possible surgery was to remove her jaw, but even then there were too many risks given that she was already ten years old. The doctor put her on antibiotics, and that helped for about six weeks. We then did another round of antibiotics, but it was time.
Loran made a grave for her and Lacey and I took her to the vet. Lacey and I sat talking and petting her as the doctor gave her the shot that instantly stopped her heart and put her to sleep. (OK, now I am full out crying...maybe writing this down was not such a good idea.) We were there when she came into this world, and we were there when she left.
We still have dogs to this day, three in fact. We love them ALL very much, but there will never be a dog as special as Casey was to our lives. She was a blessing to our lives, and a display for God's love for a little girl who prayed for a puppy to be born.

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