Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dogs I've Loved

My earliest memories include dogs. Laddie had his place in the family long before I was born. He was a big, fluffy, yellow dog. At least I thought he was, but when I’ve looked back at old pictures, he wasn’t nearly as big as I remember. I have no idea what breeds might have gone into his makeup, but he was beautifully patient with a small girl. 
 
King was my dog, not that my family got him for me especially, but he chose me as his favorite person and kept me company as I grew up. Another fluffy dog, he was probably part sheltie, part shepherd, and a lot of other things. He met the school bus every day and escorted me to the house. King was smart and eager to learn new tricks or to run along beside my bicycle. He hiked along when I roamed around the farm where I grew up, and occasionally killed a snake. When I read that Native Americans attached a travois to their dogs when they moved camp, King let me rig up a harness and drag and pulled around my dolls without complaint.

Almost as real in my memory are the dogs I’ve only met in books. My first tragic story was Old Yeller, and it still has the power to make me cry. Savage Sam, White Fang, and Buck from The Call of the Wild were special friends of mine. Later, I met Mrs. Murphy, the loveable corgi in Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries, Kimi and Rowdy from Susan Conant’s, Cedric the gassy boxer, Tricky Woo, and so may other dogs in James Herriot’s books, and a wealth of others.

As an adult, I’ve had huskies, a terrier, a Labrador, and now an energetic Staffie mix (maybe). They’ve all been so different, and yet every one of them is special, with a special place in my heart. I didn’t plan to have so many different kinds of dogs, but somehow, the right dog just showed up at the right time.

When I write a story, the cast of characters almost always includes a dog, even if I didn’t originally plan it that way. The people in these stories are just the kind of loving, giving people that need a dog in their lives, and just like in real life, the right dog just shows up.