Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Man's Best Friend

I got a message today about a friend of mines dog passing away after a long illness. I very quickly found myself feeling the same sadness that I felt about a year ago when our 16 year old sheltie T.J. passed away.

Dogs have always held a close spot in my heart since I was a child. I vividly remember taking long walks with our dog Ginger on lonely days when I felt I had no one to talk to. The unconditional love that came from that small dog was very comforting during those times. Ginger was the dog that was around us when my Mom and Dad divorced. I was 10 years old and I was trying to make sense of what was going on in my swirling world. The peace of just sitting and petting her and talking to her made me much calmer . We had about 6 years together before we had to give her away. We were moving from California to Minnesota and really had no idea if we were going to be living a place that took animals. We gave Ginger to a loving home. I wonder from time to time what her life was like after we gave her away.

I didn't have a dog for about 8 years.

I finally decided it was time to get a four legged pal about a year or so into our marriage. I was all set to start up that great close relationship that I had as a child. I found Jodie ( a West Highland White Terrier) in a ad in the paper. I was so blinded by wanting a dog so bad that I overlooked the fact that this dog was abused. We had Jodie for a couple months that were a total nightmare. It bit everything that came its way and drew blood when it did. I tearfully brought her to the animal humane society in hopes she could find a home that could handle her. As I turned back to her for the last time she bit me again.....ahhh yes love till the end! :-)

I cooled on the idea of a dog for a little while....what seemed like a couple of years was in fact about 4 months. We found TJ on a farm about 1 hour outside of the Twin cities. He was huge for a Sheltie and it was love at first sight. Even though one of his brothers was doing everything to get my attention..TJ just licked my hand and stayed right beside me. It was a easy choice. TJ was our first child. We made him the center of our newly married life world. I took him to training and he quickly became the buddy that I had as a child. We would walk down to the park and run and chase the birds....he would sit in the chair beside me and watch football or whatever was on. When Steven came..Tj had to adjust when it came to attention, but he handled that with flying colors.

The years kept ticking by and we noticed TJ slowing down and sleeping more and more. His ears didn't hear as well and his eyes got more cloudy. But he was still my buddy that always had time for me and always had that wagging tail to greet me. In the winter of 2003 we noticed him eating less and less. By July of 2004 he was gone. His body could not keep up with his strong spirit and I knew I had to do what I hated to do. I still cry like it was that day when I write about this. I did what I knew was best for him and to relieve his pain. For all the years he absorbed my pain I knew it was time for me to give back and let him sleep.

When he fell asleep in my arms I whispered to him "goodbye old friend"

I love you TJ!


Anonymous said...

That got me!!!! I knew it would the minute I saw TJ's picture... The kleenex is now in the waste basket and I just want to say how much I love you and TJ knows he is still loved and cherished...

Anonymous said...

TJ was like Cindy was to your dad and I. That First dog is so special. Ginger was special too but in a different way.....Happy that you get such fullfillment from your dogs, their part of the family.... Waiting for the next day. Enjoy your blogs.... ay

gopman said...

Mike, what was the name of the dog that is buried in the backyard of your old house on Redlands? Is that Cindy? I'm thinking it is.
I don't know if you remember Julie, but she was a great friend to me. There was a time when all I had was her, my dad and Yez. I miss her.