National Dog Day 2016
Originally posted August 26, 2016
Today is National Dog Day, a time to honor dogs, present and past, and all they bring to our lives. This dog is Cheri, a Miniature (half-way between a toy and a standard) Poodle, who lived from 1963-1973. She just may be the best dog ever to share my life, but probably did not get the acclaim she really deserved because in that era, she shared the household with Mike and Pat, two truly beautiful matching black and white English Springer Spaniels. Because "the boys" were flashy pheasant hunting machines and certified characters of the first degree, their adventures and misadventures (twice they "eloped" for two weeks but made it back home hungry but otherwise undaunted) simply got more play than Cheri's marvelous temperament and sterling behavior.
Cheri was truly a remarkable dog and only one of the many who have added so much to my world and whom I have loved and was loved by in return. Over a lifetime, I've raised dogs, trained dogs, shown dogs, hunted with dogs and field trialed dogs. Decades ago, I remember a (I believe) National Geographic television special on the history of dogs that included a line talking about the bond that develops between a puppy and a boy or girl "when each discovers that the other is somehow like themselves." You probably have to grow up with a dog - which I did with my Cocker Spaniel, Taffy - to fully understand how you indeed come to inhabit the same world as a child with a devoted dog as a constant, loving companion.
I once read an author who discussed dogs' "tragically short lives," and that's one of the reasons why these days no dog shares our household (other than occasionally my stepson Nick's bouncy little "cocktail" dogs, Leia and Sara). Personally, I have reached the point where I don't want to tell another dog a final goodbye. I recall a few years ago, in a magazine devoted to hunting dogs, a piece about the owner who realizing it was time for his devoted dog to trade this world for the next, took the euthanized animal to one of their favorite hunting fields and buried him beside a little stream. In recounting his walk back to the road and his car, he stated, "For just an instant, you think you hear the whistle of the Master, calling His dog home."
And in the last analysis, that's how it is with dogs. In reality, they are all His dogs, sent to this world to grace our lives for the time we get to love and care for them, before they go home. Once, in a philosophical discussion with a pastor friend of mine, the cleric asked me if I thought dogs go to heaven. My answer: How could it be heaven without dogs?
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