Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet Short Story about my Dogs

dog love
My Short Story as published in "Nurturing Paws". Check out the awesome book review http://www.theusreview.com/reviews/Nuturing-Johnston.html#.UXUbfsqqJVg.

All Dogs Do Go To Heaven

Nancy is my friend and she is a dog lover. She is an extreme dog lover! She has four Great Danes that live with her and her husband in their home. Nancy has been my friend for over twenty years and for over twenty years she has been encouraging me to get a dog. She assured me a dog would help me love more, remove stress and help me to generally feel better all over. But, I have a dog. I have two dogs, Percy and Tippy, both mutts, and I love them or at least I thought I did.

Nancy is the kind of pet owner that takes her dogs to the vet, A LOT! If they need anything, she gets it for them. She takes them to doggie daycare, she takes them to the groomer, she takes them to the park, she walks them, she buys them gourmet dog food and she takes them to the acupuncturist. You get the picture. Nancy loves, with a capital L, her dogs. She will do anything for these animals similar to the way I care for my children. 

On the contrary, I love my dogs. I do. I feed them, most of the time. I play with them by barely touching their heads and saying their names on my way from my garage to my front door. They get a bath if they stand outside in the rain. When they get sick, I watch them eat grass in my yard and hope they will get better. I love my dogs.

I enjoy teasing Nancy when she talks about the care she gives her dogs and of course, how her dogs love her in return.  Nancy and I have many things in common and we have many uncommon.  I suppose the least common thing about Nancy and me is that she was raised Catholic and I was raised independent Baptist.  Now, that's a mouth full and is probably one of the greatest divides known to two women.  Other than that one fact, Nancy and I are very similar individuals.  We are brunettes (when Nancy hasn't dyed her hair purple or burgundy), we are fair-skinned, not sun bathers, health-conscious, intelligent, speak with an accent (hers northern and mine southern), love the arts, love our families and our dogs.

Our relationship started in business and grew into true friendship despite our religious convictions.  She was a salesperson and I, a buyer of her commodities. Our friendship was simply two souls  sharing like passions and beliefs, except one thing.  She believed, just like the movie says, all dogs go to heaven.  I believed that dogs, all animals, are soul-less and don’t go anywhere when they die, especially not to heaven!  I don’t let dogs in my house, why would I want dogs in heaven with me?  Many people don’t like dogs and heaven is a place for people, not animals.  Nancy and I had this discussion on several occasions with neither of us agreeing with the other.

I remember a certain Thursday.  Nancy was having a particularly hard day when she paid me a visit at my office.  She began to explain to me that her dog, Tramp, was going to have to be put down. Her husband had taken him to the vet just that morning.  I felt and saw the pain in Nancy’s eyes as she struggled to choke back her tears while telling me about her pet.  I didn’t have a mirror in my office but I’m sure if you had a picture of me at that moment, I looked like a pompous peacock with my feathers spread in an elegant array as she predicted what I was thinking.  She said, with a condemning voice, “Don’t tell me Tramp won’t go to doggie heaven, because I’m not listening!” 

I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings but at the same time, I can’t back down on my staunch religious beliefs.  I said to her, as kindly as possible, “I’m really sorry about Tramp, but, no, I don’t think he will go to heaven”.  Nancy’s countenance fell to the floor. This was one of those times when I wish I could have “found a little gray” as my husband calls it. 

My husband is forever telling me that I should not always be so “black and white” but a bit gray.  At this point, I think my husband means well. I understand what he is saying.  He wants me to soften a situation. Don't be so abrasive with my views.  Give a little understanding and so on.  But please understand, he hasn’t experienced the religious convictions that I have. I think he needs to be more “black and white”, tell it like it is, stand on the promises, hell is hot and so on.

Tramp died that day. Nancy immediately starting looking for a replacement.  A replacement is what I called it. Nancy saw another dog as another member of her family because there would never be a replacement for Tramp. But she needed another pet to fill the void Tramp left behind.  This was all very odd and unusual to me until my dog Tippy started coughing.

Tippy is my very active, small, black and white female adult dog who would run a while then stop to hack.  Her activities slowed while her hacking grew worse.  My husband and children insisted we take her to the doctor. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  The vet prescribed medicine to help her breathe more freely by removing the fluid from around her heart. We took her home.

My dad rescued Tippy from an abusive situation. She had been our pet for about five years.  Tippy, a very friendly dog, that loved women but very leery of men.  We had her spayed. I told her all the time she must THINK she had died and gone to heaven because of the way she was treated before compared to the way she was living now.  She always grinned showing me her teeth when I said that. I know she understood.

We had Percy for 15 years. He was a Chow mixture with a large plummy tail we got as a puppy.  He had the sweetest face I ever seen on a dog.  Perse was his nickname. Percy and Tippy were the best of friends, male and female, about the same ages, old for dogs.  When Tippy became ill, Perse followed her everywhere like a guardian angel protecting her making sure that she made it home each night after roaming the woods or neighborhood.  When she was safe, he could rest.

Every morning my dogs greeted me as I left for work escorting me down my driveway and miraculously they'd be waiting to escort me back up my driveway every afternoon.  I loved this daily attention from my dogs.  I felt particularly sad the morning Tippy couldn’t make it up the road, much less back.  Searching for her every morning became a deliberate action for me.  I had to find her to check on her health before I went to work.  Some short time after Nancy's Tramp died, I found my Tippy dead. She was lying in my yard just down the hill from my house. The air chilled my bones.

I cannot explain all the emotions that flooded my heart and mind.  I began to cry.  And, at that very moment, I believed all dogs do go to heaven.  God reminded me that dogs are his creation, for his pleasure and mine.  Tippy had such a sweet presence that I realized she would be loved in heaven just as she was on earth.  I immediately called Nancy to tell her the good and bad news!  I could hear the smile in her voice as I agreed with her that our pets were not suffering anymore and in a better place.  Two weeks later, my husband had to take Percy to have him put down from old age and grief.  After Tippy left, he just could not rest here any longer.

Today, I have another dog, not a replacement because Tippy and Percy will never be forgotten or replaced.  I deeply love my dog and my dog loves me. I got him right after leaving my career of 27 years.  I’m not sure I would have made it through bouts of stress and anxiety without him.  His name is Herman.  His nickname is Hermie. He is a long-haired Dachshund.  I have morphed into Nancy caring for my dog.  Nancy and I have one more thing in common. Hermie enjoys all the luxuries of a pampered dog or should I say, a loved, with a capital L dog! 

long-haired dachshund
Give your dogs a hug from me 365,

Addition: Yesterday, we laid our precious Little Girl to rest. She belonged to my daughter and granddaughters, Sydnee, Lisette and Milisende. We love you Little Girl and miss you already.

we love little girl
Little Girl d. 2/7/2019


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