When my parents begin thinking about having a child, their first thought was to get a dog and if they successfully raised the dog without killing it than they would have a kid. I’m not sure if kids and dogs equate as the same thing when it comes to parenting but I sure am glad they didn’t kill the dog! That dog was Loki, named after the god of mischief. And mischief she was, she was part chow and part lab, in other words, part aggressive and full of disdain for people and part playful and loving. My parents brought me home from the hospital to a jealous fur child. Loki finding herself “replaced,” growled at me all night. My father, who never really has been a dog lover, immediately threatened to get rid of the dog. Mind you as a puppy the dog had eaten all of his shoes and was now growling at his new child. My mother insisted it would work out. My mother was right, Loki begrudgingly became my best friend as I wormed my way into her heart.
It was the Christmas of 2004 when I was only eight, that I first learned what heartbreak was. We had traveled to Missouri for Christmas, and two days before Christmas sitting in a hotel in St. Louis, my neighbor called my mother. The news wasn’t good, a tumor we didn’t know about had ruptured in her stomach. It was then hundreds of miles from home we said goodbye.
Pulling into the driveway a week later, the house looked different. And as we walked up to the door, the house sounded different. I had never come home to a silent door, there was always ferocious growls and throaty barks. A terrifying sound to strangers, but a comforting sound of home to me. The worst part was walking into the house and no one greeted us.
Three months later I looked at my mother, “I can’t stand this empty house! Let’s get a dog right now!”
I guess my mother couldn’t stand an empty house either or she didn’t feel like fighting me that day, or it could have been both of those reasons. She drove me to the Humane Society, “just to look.”
I found a puppy that day, she was one of the ugliest mutts I have ever seen and she was perfect. My mother half willing and half unwilling filled out the paperwork figuring that it would take weeks before we would find out. That night at dinner the Humane Society called us, we had a dog. The look on my father’s and sister’s faces showed mixed emotions considering they were unaware we had started looking for a new dog and my father was opposed to a new terror in the house.
She came home the next day and was instantly nicknamed, “Muttface,” by my father. For two weeks, Muttface learned to use the stairs and adapt to family life. Right off the bat, we realized that the puppy was more like a cat… she didn’t do anything but sleep!
Then by the third week, she was officially named Dingo because she didn’t bark just like wild dingoes. And Dingo became our newest family member. We still debate her genetic makeup but one breed is obvious and that is the medium sized greyhound known as a whippet. We also agree that she has some German Shepherd, but it’s all in the looks because Dingo is the laziest guard dog who sleeps on the job. Like a typical greyhound/whippet, Dingo became a one person dog, my dog.
One of my favorite memories of her was about a month after getting her. We had gone out for dinner that night and we arrived home to an overly excited puppy with a two-inch butcher knife clutched in her mouth. She was coming straight for us with the sharp end facing us. Oh great, our new dog is about to accidently kill us all!
Now she is almost twelve years old and I fear that the time of heartbreak is near and I wonder why we bother falling in love with such short-lived animals. Then I remember all of the joy I receive every time I think about all of the adventures we have been on, all of the trips I dragged her on despite Dingo being a homebody who never wants to go anywhere, the lazy tail wags when you walk in the door as she lays in her bed watching you, and the rare nights when we cuddle and fall asleep together. I have had three dogs in my life, and life without dogs is unfathomable. Life without dogs is bleak and gray. Dogs are the one individual you can turn to and always find a great listener, loyal best friend, and someone who is always happy to see you. Sharing your life with a dog is one of the greatest joys in life.