A Life Measured in Dogs

This is our dog, well one of our dogs. Her name is Josie, actually Lady Josephine of Barkingham Palace and she is currently helping me write my blog post. The great T. S. Eliot wrote the line, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” in his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I LOVE Eliot, but I, personally, measure my life in dogs! If you are a dog person, then you probably understand what I am talking about.

The great T. S. Eliot wrote the line, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” in his poem The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock. I LOVE Eliot, but I, personally, measure my life in dogs!

When I look back and think about my childhood, I remember by beloved beagle/basset hound mix named Nipper (don’t judge! I was 2 when I named him and my parents let me name him on my own.) Nipper was my faithful companion for 16 years. That’s right! That blessed mutt lived for 16 years! When we finally had to put him down, I was an adult. Nipper had been the pet that had been with me when I played on my swing set, when I got a new baby brother, when friends were mean, when I went through dreaded puberty, when I started dating, and even when I met and started dating my husband! As I watched my sweet puppy Nipper take his last haggard breath, it wasn’t just my childhood playmate that died, but also my childhood. Nipper was the pet that marked that chapter of my life. He is ingrained in most of my childhood memories!

After my husband and I married and moved into the first home we rented, it was only a few years until we adopted a sweet little beagle/rat terrier mix. My husband, who had never had his own dog, named her Posey. Posey was our first “child”. Posey was adorable! She slept in our bed and went everywhere we did! We took her to our parents’ houses, to hotels, on day trips. Posey was with us when we moved into the first house that we owned! She snuggled with me when I was pregnant with our first son. When our oldest was born, she LOVED him. He would feed her from his high chair and they were the best of friends…that is until he became mobile. She didn’t love him very much after that. In fact, Posey in her senior years didn’t love any of our kids. She preferred to hang out in the basement until they went to bed, then she would come up and hang out with us. We lost Posey this fall. My husband and I both wept like babies. It was sincerely a hard loss. She had been through so much of life with us. And another chapter closed.

Nessie the big brown dog that we had when I lived at home and Posey our adorable little puppy.

Before Posey died, about three years ago, we adopted a perfect dog named Jack-Jack. We adopted Jack for our boys. I thought that they needed a dog that was young enough to romp and play with them. Jack-Jack is a big dog! He is part Shepherd and part lab, a perfect mix if you ask me! Jack is as close to perfect a dog as I have ever met! We adopted him at 6 months old and he came potty trained. He LOVED our boys right away! He will fetch a ball as many times as you will throw it! Jack is often found curled up with someone in the recliner or couch. He thinks he is a giant lap dog.

Jack loves to take walks and is gentle enough that my youngest has been able to hold his leash since he was three. Jack never pulled him down! Jack is a great watch dog and lets us know right away if anything sounds out of place in the house or if someone happens to drive into the driveway. He is a smart dog and has learned commands without much training at all. Jack is the dog of my sons’ childhoods. He is the dog that my children will mark their childhoods by. He is the dog that I will mark their childhoods by.

Our youngest walking Jack-Jack when he was just three.

Josie is our newest dog. We added her in July when Tim and I decided that our boys needed to experience a puppy. Josie is the only pure bred dog we have ever had. She is a blue heeler, except that she is almost completely white. Josie is the bratty little sister of the pack! She is spunky and feisty and has been difficult to potty train, but she is another dog that will mark the childhood chapter of my children. When they look back at their childhood, Jack and Josie will be in most of their memories!

It isn’t just the dog that we are grieving, but also the chapter of our lives that the beloved pet marks.

If you have ever had to say good-bye to a beloved puppy companion, you know that the pain and sorrow are serious. The grief can be crippling and deep. It can mirror the grief we feel when we lose a friend or family member. Non-dog people will not understand the depth of that grief. It isn’t just the dog that we are grieving, but also the chapter of our lives that the beloved pet marks.

I have had many pups: Nipper, Rory, Nessie, Posey, Tilly, Dixie, Penny, Jack-Jack, Bailey and Lady Josephine. Each one of these pups holds a special place in my memory. They each mark a special part of my life. Seven of those chapters have closed. The beauty is that as a chapter closes, we begin to write another. With each new precious pup that comes into our lives, a new chapter is opened. I believe firmly that dogs are a gift to us from God. He designed them to be our wonderful companions and to help teach us about unconditional love! Truly, no one has experienced unconditional love until they have been greeted by the body wagging, tongue lolling, excited barking of a pup when you come home! What a gift! There’s no way that greeting can’t make any day you’ve had better!

My fashion philosophy is, if you’re not covered in dog hair, your life is empty. –Elayne Boosler

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