Rhona Canoy /
SO… in the face of all the depressing news filled with sex, drugs, and corruption this week I choose to honor all the dogs (the four-legged fur-covered kind) who have come and gone in my life. Yes, to those who have never had a relationship with animals, this column will seem insanely asinine, but certainly not to those who have joined me on this canine ship of fools.
I was a late bloomer, not surrendering to the madness till I was in my mid-forties. Yes, we had had dogs around the house before that, but mostly just as burglar alarms who were never allowed into the domicile. Then one of the parents in my school gave me a puppy. I wasn’t sure at the time if I wanted it, but he was the runt of the litter, and the last one left up for adoption. So I became mom to a cute Rottweiler, who I had no idea would become so big and so important in my life.
He kept me company for almost 11 years, sleeping by my side except when I had to go away. Patient, unconditional, forgiving, filled with love, my protector, my Prozac, my friend and partner. He was followed by Punky, the Dalmatian, who was cast away because she couldn’t hear a blasted thing so I took her in. The only one who ever slept through the racket during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Then came Black Moon, my Chuki. Big bear of a black Labrador who hated to be scratched and fussed over, had a baritone singing voice, and caused the demise of my bed frame. I didn’t want him either, but he was banished for chewing up expensive Italian shoes, and wanted to stay. So my family grew.
All of them in the face of my daughter who didn’t and still doesn’t love dogs. Her oft-repeated childhood arrow against me being, “You love those dogs more than you love me!” But that discussion is not for the here and now.
There have been many since then—Badi (short for Sabado), Bordigoy the epileptic Dachshund, and those who chose to adopt me although they were never mine. Countless trips to the vet (which made me long for animal health insurance), many sleepless nights keeping watch over sick dogs on a strict medicine schedule, and the ultimate heartbreak of putting them to sleep to end their suffering.
The life lessons I have learned are many as well. Living with my dogs taught me that humans need to know how to treat each other better. It taught me to appreciate that each being is different, and that differences are okay. That fighting is okay but that once the differences are settled, it’s over and life goes on with no grudges or hatred. I’ve come to realize that I aspire to be like my furbabies. I want to someday be accepting without condition, to love without limit, to forgive but never let the sins be repeated upon me. To have the instinct to know when I am needed, to provide quiet solace and company, and most of all to be non-judgmental. Never judgmental. I’ve had the opportunity to have been in relationships with two-legged dogs as well, and they have taught me that my standards were too low. Cheating, lying, self-centered, selectively generous, inconsiderate creatures, them. My dogs have treated me better. What can I say?
A few days ago, I had to make the painful decision to let my mom’s Pitpit Petey cross over. He was old and in much pain. And in the last few weeks of his life, he chose me to be his companion. He came into a corner of my room and stayed, I hope with the knowledge that I would take care of him, and know when it was time for him to rest with dignity and love. Some ancient cultures believe that when our time is up, all the animals we have ever shown kindness to will come to help us cross over the abyss. What a reunion that will be! That thought gives me great comfort and makes the idea of my passing less dismal. So now the next question is this: When my soul come back, will I be worthy to be a dog?