Ever since I can remember, we've been a "dog" family.
When I was a little girl, my parent's union was cemented with his and hers dogs by their sides...a large golden retriever, Brandy, and a small, white, mixed breed (that's code for mutt) named Abby.
Brandy was a protector. My mom tells the story of living at the beach...she would take me for walks in a backpack along the shore, Brandy walking between us and the ocean only until another human approached, then he'd switch sides and walk between us and the unfamiliar person.
Brandy drooled a lot and I thought he was as big as a horse. He even let me ride him from time to time and there are several pictures of the 2 of us, me diaper-clad pulling and tugging on his golden curls - him, smiling ear to ear. I'm pretty sure he was my first best friend.
He lived to be the ripe old age of 19, and the night before we had to put him to sleep will always be etched in my memory. I miss him even today, that stinky, lovely old dog.
After Abby and Brandy were gone, we brought another golden into our lives, Maggie. She was a rambunctious ball of energy that kept my brother and I entertained for hours. Her coat was a deep copper color and she loved everything about being a dog...everything. So much so, that she got herself knocked up by a neighbor's mutt and had a giant litter of 11 male puppies! The local paper published a photo of her and her litter lying all over my brother in the backyard - I should have known then that he was destined for greatness.
Anyway, Maggie finally got a companion canine from the pound, a little black cock a poo mix (that's code for mutt) that my mother aptly named "Benson" after the popular 80's TV show, and the fact that he was the most polite and refined dog she'd ever seen. His markings made him look like he was wearing a tuxedo. Despite the fact that his ears always smelled like low tide, he was the cutest little dog I'd ever seen and when my mom would take him to the groomer and he'd come home w/little blue bows in his "hair," I thought that I'd died and gone to heaven (and this was probably in 1983 folks...long before there was such a thing as a designer dog). He was positively edible - well, except for the stinky ear problem.
Maggie and Benson were inseparable. They even wandered off into the Alaskan bush for 2 weeks while we were living there one summer. I think they had an "Incredible Journey" of their own before returning to our chalet, coated in thick, greasy Alaskan mud. They had many adventures and died happy.
After losing the dynamic duo, my parents bought my younger brother a samoyed/lab mix (that's code for almost a mutt) puppy whom he named Sam. Sam was cute, looked like an overgrown marshmallow, but had a temper. Sam and I never had any big personality conflicts (I missed a lot of Sam's formative years while I was away at college) until I had children. Let me just say this, samoyeds and kids do not mix. And we knew this. So any and all contact was made under careful supervision, for the kids sake, and the dogs.
Sam eventually passed away, as dogs do when they've reached the end of their life span, and for the first time in a long time, my parent's home was dogless.
Nobody to walk.
Nobody to feed.
Nobody to take outside to potty in the middle of the night or chew on the furniture.
In a nutshell, void.
Then one day, I was informed that they were "testing out a dog," just to see how it felt. Testing out a dog? I thought. Who does that?
Well, come to find out, people do. And sometimes it works out. Sage was a mature (that's code for not a puppy but not yet one foot in the grave) golden retriever who had lived life as a companion to a lady who had health problems. He was trained to do just about everything except brush his own teeth (toothbrush was provided along w/regimented brushing schedule by his previous owner) and did his business in a 4 x 4 area of grass - which impressed me since I'd been chin deep in diapers for the past several hundred years...or so it seemed.
He is easy. I don't want to use the cliche, but he is easy like Sunday morning, I'm not kidding. He makes everyone he meets fall head over heels in love with him and when he smiles, he lights up the planet. He is smart, kind, fun and he even talks in funny, low grunts that we pretend we understand.
His breath stinks and he snores louder than a freight train, but he's definitely meant to be where he is - with my mom and dad.
And I'm so glad he is.
Isn't he grand?