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Saturday, February 20, 2010

So Long, Daddy

For those of you who watch or have ever watched The Dog Whisperer, you will be sad to know that Daddy, Cesar's right-hand dog, passed away yesterday at the age of 16. That's an incredibly long life for a large dog, and it just goes to show how happy and healthy he was. Aside from being such a helpful dog for Cesar when he rehabilitated other pups, Daddy was a shining example of what a pit bull is supposed to be like. Gentle, quiet, and fiercely loyal. It brings sad memories of the day that my family put our first family dog to sleep. Even now, 13 years later, I still get an empty feeling in my gut when I think about Cindy the Wonder Dog.

Her name was Cinderella because she was all black, and looked like she had rolled in soot. She was half German Shepherd Dog, half Golden Retriever, and all love. You've never met a smarter dog in your life... not only could she understand English, she could speak it. I swear that dog could say 'out' and 'bone'. Ask anyone in my family if you don't believe me. She loved nothing more than to roam around our neighborhood, visiting her dog friends Buck and Buff. If something smelled foul, she'd find it and roll in it to her heart's content. She flunked out of obedience class as a puppy, but was the most well-behaved, civilized dog in her adult years. She was terrified of the car. She trembled for the entire trip, no matter where we were going, but once we got there she was happy to see whoever we were visiting. Except maybe the vet.

She adored our cat, Whiskers (aka Kitty). They were both jet black, and they grew up together. When Kitty would saunter by on her way to her food bowl, Cindy would ambush her with an emergency ear-cleaning. She'd hold Kitty down with her paw and lick her ears until she was sopping wet. And those two loved each other. When Cindy got liver cancer, our family was devastated. Losing a pet is perhaps one of the most important life lessons for a child. Cindy was the first living thing I had been attached to that died, and it was because of her that I was able to deal with the family and friends that I lost later in life. I still have dreams about her, and I miss her with all my heart. So to Cesar, and to anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a furry friend, I feel your pain. But I also know it eases with time, and the best way to honor their memories is to open your heart to more animals who need your loving care.

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