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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Walking each other home

We're all just walking each other home.

Ram Dass

This morning I start my volunteer training in dog walking at the animal shelter. I’ve had almost a lifetime of dog walking experience, mostly with dogs we adopted from shelters. My friend Morgan will be training me, so that makes it much more enjoyable. Morgan has a passion for dogs that she is now indulging more than ever and I’m also thrilled to have animals back into my life after the loss of three pets in the past four years.

Penny was a rescue pup we adopted when she was about four months old. She resembled a beagle on stilts. We know she had hound in her; she was a massive tail wagger and her entire, lithe body shook when that tail took off. She was full of boundless energy, and at the age of four was hit by a car whilst probably chasing after a squirrel after our gate came down with a gust of wind. I noticed she was gone when the mockingbirds flew up to the back deck; they made sounds like a wounded animal. I rushed out in the car and found her body by the side of the road.

Martha, a beautiful black Lab from a championship lineage, was born two days after our son and they grew up together. She had a lovely, calm personality and was just entering her senior years when Penny joined our family. Martha seemed to have lost her status in the family pecking order, as Penny was rather energetic and pushy around her. One afternoon we returned from work and I found Martha’s collar off and her demeanor really subdued. I thought she may have had a heart attack, but Penny probably pulled so hard on her collar she may have choked her. The vet was able to help, but after that Martha was always more fragile. She passed about 2 years ago at the age of 11.

Trey Tuxedo Whiteclaw, a.k.a. Kitty, was a stray we adopted from a neighbor. Kitty was always a bit wild and definitely thought he had some cougar in him. He loved clawing our furniture and waiting for our son to enter a room so he could pounce on him. Kitty was never a lap cat. He was happiest outside, but when we moved to a condo downtown, I really had to watch him so he wouldn’t escape into the streets. I was heartbroken when he fell ill with a blood disorder and we had to put him down. I remember the look of relief when I came to be with him at the vet’s during the procedure; he thought I was there to take him home.

Our family lost three beautiful animals in such a short space of time. I was their main caregiver and it really affected me as I felt responsible for their happiness and comfort.  I’m not sure we’ll be adding another animal companion to our family as I feel unsure about keeping any animal (over the size of a mouse) in a 925 square foot condo. But I’m thrilled to be able to walk dogs without homes and hope to communicate to them a lot of love, joy and appreciation for being simply who they are.


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