Life, With Dogs

A while back, I helped my mother sort through her dad’s lifetime of photos. We hadn’t worked very long before I recognized two recurring themes. My grandpa’s ever-present smile, and his various dogs. You could pinpoint the era, if you knew the dog. And except for one Pomeranian, they were all black poodle mixes.

The Pomeranian was the only one I didn’t really like (among the ones I knew). Rusty was a one-man dog and he didn’t like kids. He was high-strung and nervous. One day Grandpa came home from work early and surprised Rusty. Rusty suffered a heart attack and died.

So, Grandpa got a black cockapoo, more poodle than cocker. I don’t remember that one’s name, but it was a very sweet dog. By then, we’d moved to Kentucky and didn’t get to visit often. When we did, I loved the early morning walks with the dog. Grandpa lived in Paramount, California in a non-too-safe area, but he never complained. And he carried the smile with him throughout.

The last dog he had was a cute little poodle mix named Bubbles, for her bubbly personality. Nothing ever got her down, even the loss of her sight. As a pup, she’d slept right next to Grandpa, and his use of oxygen permanently damaged her eyes, or so the vet said. After Grandpa passed, my step-grandmother couldn’t continue to take care of Bubbles. Because the dog was blind, she planned to have her euthanized. After spending just a few days with Bubbles, Mom fell in love with her. So Bubbles made the long journey from California to Kentucky, along with Mom and Dad and a UHaul trailer filled with Grandpa’s other treasures.

1015199_10200393801707494_302355430_oBubbles lived many more years, all of them quite happy, as an only dog among several cats in my parents’ household. She loved everyone she met and continued to inspire through her perky spirit. That’s her smack in the middle of our family’s Christmas photo. She was always present at our Christmas celebrations. A member of the family, after all.

1012319_10200370278079418_838838863_nI could not write this post without mentioning my granddog, Gusto. A miniature schnauzer, Gusto’s exuberance gives joy to his family. He’s a grownup now, and looks it, with his wise eyes overshadowed by bushy eyebrows. He’s territorial and fiercely devoted to his humans. But his best quality is his ability to make us laugh. When we snap his picture, he poses, like a true rockstar. Such a diva.

I’ve seen firsthand how having a pet can improve the quality of one’s life. Especially the lives of the elderly. Grandpa always wanted a pet and he needed one. When he had a dog, he always had something to do. Many nursing homes have resident dogs who spend time with individual patients. They walk with them, or just sit with them. Dogs aren’t the only companion pets, but seem to be preferred.

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Today’s Prompt: How many dogs or other pets have passed through your life? In lieu of a prompt, please share with us your favorite of those pets, whether they were yours or belonged to a close family member.