If you’ve never loved a dog, you don’t want to read this.  It’s all warm and fuzzy.   But for those of us who have cherished and nurtured and buried beloved pets, here you go……………..

When I was a child, growing up in Lavonia , my parents gave me my first Cocker Spaniel.  Since that time, I have loved many, but this one was special.  He was AKC registered and his official name was Diane’s Mr. Tip because of the white tips on his black paws.  He, of course, was lovingly called Tippy.

Now at some point , when he was 3 or 4 years old, Tippy was stolen.  Daddy somehow knew that and did what you did back in the day.  He called Sheriff Tom Watson Andrews , ( Missy Andrews Blakely and Scott Andrews’ grandfather ) and told him that there was a broken-hearted little girl at our house.

A couple of months later, Tom Watson showed up with Tippy in tow, found tied behind a barn in Hart County !  What rejoicing——and what gratitude for a kind-hearted sheriff who cared enough to quit chasing bad guys and make a little girl happy.

Tippy died some years later, but instead of saying that, Mother explained that Tippy had gotten old enough to want to explore a different world and that he would always love us , but other paths called him.  Those were the days when reality was not as important as comfort and peace, much like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.  I’ll always be grateful for that .

My daddy hunted quail , and he had two bird dogs :  Jack was a Setter and Ben, a Retriever.  One day the workers who were re-roofing our house  left their ladder leaning against the wall. I was about seven years old, so I climbed the ladder and promptly fell off, breaking my arm.  Almost simultaneously, Jack broke his leg.

Mother said that Daddy had a difficult time deciding which one to take to the doctor first !!!!!        Such is the love of our pets………….

The first dog we had after Byron and I married was a black Cocker,  named Fitzgerald for President Kennedy.  Fitzgerald was a delight and lived with us in an upstairs apartment in Atlanta for the first year or so.  Have no recollection of how we actually managed that.

When we bought out first house in Winder, I was pregnant.  When Chuck was brought home from the hospital and placed in a small cradle, Fitzgerald lifted himself up , took a look , noted the newcomer——–and promptly had a seizure !!!!  Those seizures continued until he died.     Far be it from me to question whether dogs understand !!!!!

Other dogs through the years were choices made by our children.  We had Beagles, Weimaraners, Dachshunds, Cockers, and many, many mutts, and we loved them all.  But the children grew up and Cockers prevailed :  Seab, Opie, George, Barney, Zack———-and now our Gracie, who is, unquestionably, the most loved.

She was found wandering in rural Franklin County some 8 years ago and brought to Lavonia Animal Hospital in bad shape.  Now this clinic has been our safe place since the 1970s , shortly after Dr. Pat Hitchcock opened.  Dr. Jason Macomson was added , as was Kim Wilder, and the three of them have carried us through some tough times.  We are grateful.

Jason called us to come down to meet Gracie, and she was just perfect for us.   She’s house-broken ,  doesn’t bark ,  never meets a stranger ,  stands back for us to go ahead ,  sits for her snack ,  sleeps all night ,  and makes no demands of any kind .  When she needs to go out, she shakes her head  ” No ” ,  but we know she means  ” Yes “.

One story about Gracie happened recently.  She began panting.  I mean PANTING , non-stop , for virtually every waking hour.  And it continued for 3 or 4 days.  Now panting in a dog generally means exertion  ( Gracie never exerts ) ,  heat ( controlled climate ),  anxiety  ( what could she possibly be anxious about ? )  or pain.  So off to the clinic we go.

Jason  ( when he had a free minute, Pat came in )  did the whole ” enchilada ” :  physical exam, x-rays, and lab work.  No problems found !  So, Jason says to  Byron, Gracie, and me ,  ” Perfect !  All tests show that she is fine.  But I’ll prescribe something to see if we can stop the panting.  But there seems to be nothing wrong at all “.

Now get this:   NO MEDICINE GIVEN !  NO MORE PANTING !     Nothing done at all.  Gracie simply heard the doctor say,  ” You are fine ! ” ………… and she is.  Just like humans, they hear and understand.  She was reassured ;   end of story.

I warned you that this would be warm and fuzzy…………..

I’ll end on this note.  Dennis , our son-in-law,  had a large Lab many years ago named Janna for Muff’s grandmother.  We were sitting on our deck one afternoon , discussing various things, including our pets.

And Dennis said,  ” Anyone who does not believe that dogs have souls has never looked into Janna’s eyes. ”

I think that about sums it up…………………………