A tale of grandparents and family dogs
It was summer and we were at the family’s lake cottage when our younger daughter developed a bad cold. We returned home immediately, and she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. In addition, she was found to have severe allergies. Our pediatrician recommended that we find a new home for our dog. We loved Jack and as we considered our options, we decided he could live with Barbara’s parents.
When we suggested this solution, her dad and mother embraced it enthusiastically. We promptly delivered Jack to his new home, but we were aware of comments attributed to neighbors saying it was a cruel act for children to stick their older parents with a dog. Neighbor’s comments bothered us some but not enough for us to change our plans.
Our standard poodle adjusted to being a part of her parent’s household and the feeling was reciprocated. This arrangement eased our minds as we saw the happiness of both Barbara’s parents and our dog. Jack had near 24-hour companionship and so did his new “mother” whose mobility was restricted by a chronic hip problem.
Barbara’s dad had an outdoor run built for Jack. It led from the back of their house and was convenient for both man and dog. When Barbara’s parents had a formal portrait taken, they included Jack, now a prominent member of the household. Jack lived with Barbara’s parents for four years of unparalleled happiness for all until he died the same week as Barbara’s dad.
Fast forward 53 years. My little dog Andy had died in September of a brain tumor. I was alone. One of our daughters was building a new home and closing a business. She was busy and was away from home a lot. This meant either boarding Annie, her eight-year-old Havanese, or having the dog stay with me intermittently. After several months of this arrangement, my daughter suggested Annie should come to live with me. I agreed but wanted to be sure that it was right for all involved and not just for me. Deciding the new arrangement was good for all, I now had a dog.
Annie and I spent two wonderful years together. This made me think of those years that Barbara’s parents had spent with Jack. Annie and I were together constantly. Wherever I went, if it was possible, Annie was with me riding in the car for the seven-hour trip north or quick shopping in town. She even loved the boat and would sit with me for hours as I read or simply gazed off at the harbor sights. But at her relatively advanced age, I decided to spare her the discomfort of being bounced around when underway in a small boat. There is something about old dogs and new tricks and in this case, I felt it was best for Annie to be a dock dog.
Then it happened. Annie began slowing down. Almost to the day, two years after she came to live with me Annie died.
Our family has had dogs continually for 60 years. I never allowed myself to seriously compare any of our dogs. I loved them all for who they were. But I never had a dog I loved more than Annie, who confirmed the wisdom of a choice we made more than 50 years ago.
By Savvy Senior
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