A friend sent me an email last week excitedly introducing me to the newest member of her family, a boy named Teddy:
Makes me think of something I have said to many different people, many times: In all the world, there is simply nothing better than a puppy.
I’ve always loved animals in general and dogs in particular and have had one, two or three dogs my entire adult life after never being allowed to have a dog as a kid. The standard line back then was, “we don’t have a good place for a dog,” which was really only partially true because we had a big yard and certainly a portion of it could’ve been set up for a dog if there had been any inclination to do so; there were plenty of dogs in our Milwaukie neighborhood.
One day when I was about 10, my regular begging finally seemed to get the answer I was looking for. Euphoria turned to depression the next day when I was told there had been a change of heart and no, we couldn’t get a dog after all.
I felt betrayed to the point that I seriously could’ve run away from home; that’s how badly I wanted a dog.
My mom was fond of saying, “When you have your own place, you can have as many dogs as you want,” and while that’s not what you want to hear when you’re a decade away from having your own place, I never forgot those words. After securing my first full-time newspaper job in 1986, I had two mongrel puppies within a week. Here they are, Amanda, left, and Bingle, when they were about a year old:
Amanda lived to within a couple months of her 15th birthday, and Bingle made it to 16.
This photo is just one of many canine pics I keep handy. Most are of my own pets, but I also have pictures of other dogs too. I just like them and tend to make friends with them wherever I go.
Here’s part of the gallery, which is spread between my phone and a couple different computers:
Candy was my father-in-law's dog and, long story short, died in a tragic accident two decades ago that I played a role in. It still haunts me and always will, but I have many happy memories of Candy.
Data, left, with Bingle, was another dog that belonged to my father-in-law. I inherited him upon my father-in-law's death and had him for two years before cancer claimed him at age 11. He had become totally devoted to me, and I was crushed.
Shag, likely the day we got him in 2002. This pic serves as the wallpaper on my work computer; tour groups love it.
Shag, five years later, about an hour before I had to have him put down. He had a condition that couldn't be treated, and I had no choice but to let him go. For a couple days, I was disconsolate, but the black cloud gradually lifted.
Shag with Jewel, now 10, when they were both a couple years old.
Excuse the tiny photo file. This is Rudy, whom I wrote about several years ago. Long story short, he needed plane fare from Albany to Illinois. A flood of donations sent him home.
And this is Ruby. After her owners divorced, Ruby lived with me for three years until going back to one of her former owners in fall 2010. She died of multiple health problems this winter.
I don't know the cat's name, but the dog is Francie and belonged to a friend and former co-worker. Francie went to dog heaven a couple years ago, and I hope there's an ample supply of tennis balls, because I have never seen a dog so fixated on them.
My sister Deb''s dog Roxxie, another current resident of dog heaven.
And Deb and her current dog, Jessie. No, Jessie is not related to Roxxie.
Shadow was a Fences for Fido client in Sweet Home. I was told the whole place reeked of marijuana (I have no sense of smell myself), but hey, pot heads' dogs need safe yards too.
Murry lived at the KOA in Dubois, Wyo. Met him on our ride to Mount Rushmore last July.
Bear belonged to a fellow customer at a hamburger stand in a town (can't remember the name) in the Sierras a couple hours southeast of Fresno. Met this dog as we rode from Death Valley to Yosemite in May 2009. In addition to being a very genial critter, the aging animal's claim to fame was having survived a rattlesnake bite years earlier.