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Culture: Stories & Lit
Learning to Love Louie
Same breed, different dog, new challenge.
Our first Standard Poodle, Sophie, was everything you assumed when you just read the words “Standard Poodle.” A reincarnated 1920s flapper girl with an apricot coat and long legs, Sophie was always ready for a party, and her prance told you she was well aware of her charms. Our second Standard Poodle, Buddy, was a black-and-silver puppy-mill rescue with oversized paws splayed from years of...
Culture: Stories & Lit
How Labeling Affects How We See Our Dogs
The Power of Name-Calling
Our new Golden Retriever puppy is nearly six months old and her learning experiences are our learning experiences. Five times a day, she whimpers to go out; five times a day, we tell her Not now, Maisie. All three of us are learning what to expect from one another concerning patience. Even though she is our fourth Golden in a long line of beloved dogs, the art of dog training and the...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Freddie Flealoader
It’s a summer day in 1994. Smoke drifts lazily toward the pale blue sky, its woody aroma penetrating the house. Looking out the kitchen window, I watch my husband Bill clear some of the acreage that will be our back yard. Bill drags a tree limb toward the fire. Carrying a small branch in his mouth, a stray dog follows close behind. He places the limb beside the fire, then follows Bill to retrieve...
Culture: Stories & Lit
A Youthful Folly Leads To A Career Saving Animal Lives
Mother, Mutts and Mercies
Patches joined our family as a puppy when I was two, so she was 13 when I accidentally killed her. She was a mutt and looked like the RCA dog, all white with a brown patch over one eye, but 10 pounds bigger. She had 13 puppies in her first litter, which I took to mean she was Catholic, like our family of nine kids. Patches licked everyone who came to the house: the Fuller Brush man, the Bourbeau...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Pug in Assisted Living
An elderly Pug needs a little help with the day-to-day.
I recently put my dog, Jack, into assisted living. I knew it was time: he has escalating hygiene needs, he wanders, he is confused and he often puts himself in harm’s way. The assisted living facility is lovely. It has wide windows, many of them facing south and east, which let in the warm, chunky beams of sunlight in which Jack loves to nap. There is a pleasant, fenced-in green lawn where he can...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Lessons Learned ... And Unlearned
Love and forgiveness. What else is there to know?
My Golden Retriever, Annie, died yesterday. So did my grandmother. God, I’m going to miss that dog. I’ve been asked to write my grandmother’s eulogy, and as I try, I can’t help but think about these two lives and deaths converging, and the difference between the two paths on which they took me. Annie and I walked along the nature trail together the morning of her death. I didn’t realize it would...
Culture: Stories & Lit
George, The Dog Who Saved My Life
By the time George had come into my life, I had more than three hundred convictions to my name and had been in prison over thirty times. You might be thinking that I couldn’t have been much of a thief to get caught so many times over the years, but the truth is I found it so hard to cope with life on the outside that I had started to effectively check myself in to prison for the winter. It got to...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Strawberry Blond
Labrador retriever and berries
Nick was my husband’s dog. But, come June, he tagged along every time I ventured out to the garden with my picking bucket. Like me, the big yellow Lab knew that nothing in the world tastes as good as a strawberry plucked hot from the vine on a summer day. I think of him now, with this year’s bumper crop of berries, as I lean over to snap the stem of each scarlet jewel between my thumbnail and...
Culture: Stories & Lit
The Gift of a Great Dog
Recognizing the “one” but taking on a new dog.
If Rex could have talked, we would have finished each other’s sentences. We got another dog right away. That wasn’t the plan. But back in March, less than two weeks after Rex died and when I still had faint bruises from digging my fingers into my forehead amid uncontrollable sobs, I signed us up to “foster” a Saint Bernard mix that had been rescued from a crack den. It was a classic rebound move...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Training Maxine, Rescue Dog
Learning that life can be good
She and I are alone. When I say the B-word, she rushes to my side and goes into a sit, the first thing she learned, and so far the only one: sit comes before treat the way head comes before tail. It’s not open for discussion. “Bagel! Maxine! Bagel!” She’s so wiggly, she can barely hold her bum to the floor. The eyes that were sad and dull in her adoption photo are now bright. Her long tail goes...

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