This week of graduations has put me in a reflective mood. Sometimes when I look at my newly minted high school (and college bound) graduate, I have memory bursts of her wearing her food and wanting to be near me. But kids grow up, and if you’ve done your job right, develop their own independent living skills and eventually, after all the hard work, sacrifice and heartache, go off and leave you. In less then 3 months, this first born will head off to college and the next step in her journey of self discovery.
Dogs, on the other hand, when raised well, and also through hard work and sacrifice, want to be near you all the time forever. Hopefully in ways that are comforting. Just this morning I was heartened that my dogs wanted to remain outside in the pouring rain with me as I gardened, rather than go in where it was dry and comfortable beds awaited them.
Thirty years ago today, June 10, 1981, my first and most deeply loved heart dog, Teisha, was born. I was overseas at the time, dreading returning to the U.S. and my junior year of college. I figured the only way I could manage to stay grounded was to get a dog. And by a stroke of fate, our paths crossed and were entwined together for the rest of her life.
And while she crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge on the Ides of March in 1995, her indomitable spirit continues to guide me in the world of canines. I credit the diminutive English Springer Spaniel as my greatest teacher — during our nearly 14 years together we lived in 28 different places in four different states. She gave birth to 17 pups in 3 litters (okay, two of the litters were planned!) who all went on to do great things for their families; she helped me through the first 2 years of my own still continuing journey of motherhood — and her patience, tolerance, good spirit and joie of life helped stabilize me during my turbulent twenties. I still use the skills she taught me in my own guiding of the current dogs in my life — my dogs, my fosters, my “projects”, my client’s dogs, dogs I meet in life.
So thank you Teisha, and happy birthday, from the bottom of my heart. Know you will never be forgotten by those whose lives you touched.
If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.