Patches was a white ball of fluff that was meant as a present for my older sister. That baby girl dog may have been intended for my sister but the joy she brought into our home was so desperately needed she became a gift to us all. I grew up with five older siblings who were mostly grown when I came around so they were out of the house doing their thing when I was small. Patches was the sibling left at home. Patches would play dress up. She’d allow me to take her for multiple daily walks as an excuse to meet friends or later, boyfriends out on the neighborhood streets. For fourteen years of my life her ears heard my secrets and her warm coat caught my tears. At age four, my father died, my mother went to work and my siblings went on their own journey of healing. Patches ensured I was never alone.
Newly married and fresh off buying our first city house I somehow coerced The Husband into adding a dog to the mix. We decided on a rescue. He, on a mission for a chocolate lab, walked right past Jack’s kennel. As for me, one look at those giant Shepherd ears (one flopped forward in a perfect sweet puppy salute) and I could walk no further. This was my guy. Luckily, I coerced The Husband into that too.
As a rescue Jack came with all sorts of quirks. The situations that evolved from his “personality” taught us a lot about ourselves as a team. We were quickly introduced to how we worked together as husband and wife and future dad and mom. There were more than a few fights. The Husband threatened to return our guy to sender more than once. One very bloody park fight and a good bout of doggie intestinal flu not only proved our mettle, but sealed the bond of Jack and The Husband for life (or at least until we had to share him with friends when our small house and increasing number of kids threatened to push his fragile puppy protector personality right over the edge).
Dogs change your life. They are the only creatures I’ve found that truly love unconditionally and selflessly. They provide unending support and bring endless humor. If you’ve never had a dog, no amount of explanation can properly convey their value.
If you’ve ever had a dog, no explanation is necessary.
This post was inspired by an AMAZING book called Cowboy and Wills about a remarkable boy and the dog that helped him reveal his greatness to the world. The author and proud mother and dog owner is Monica Holloway. I admire her as a mom. I relate to her as a dog owner and as a quirky girl, I wish I was her friend. I was provided a copy of this book as a member of the From Left to Write book club. You can read other posts inspired by Ms. Holloway’s work here.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.
Lisa Hanneman says
We adopted our dog Howie from a shelter after spending about 15 minutes with him. It was reckless and silly, but I remember looking into this eyes from behind the cage… He leaned against the wire and stared soulfully into my eyes. No other shelter dog could make eye contact like that. That's when I knew he would be ours… And we've never looked back.
Aunt Suzie says
I have pictures of Patches in her "dress up" clothes. She was a great dog (except for chewing shoes).
I remember thinking when I was an adult, I'd have an all-black cat. I ended up getting Bobbie, a black-and-white tuxedo-wearing cat. She just was right there waiting for me. After that, I realized it's just as silly to pick a pet by their color as it would be to pick a friend or lover for theirs!