|Mary Wakefield Buxton|
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— The shock of losing “Lord” last week is starting to wane now and we are getting back on our feet here at the Pineapple Palace. Isn’t it amazing how much we love dogs? Every time I lose one, it seems it’s even harder to recover.
That’s because many of us think of dogs as members of the family. I’ve always had dogs under my feet and they are like children to me.
I read once that a dog has the brain and emotional maturity of a toddler. They experience similar human emotions like pride, envy, jealousy, shame and joy. They also know very well how to say “No!”
I’ll put “Lady” up against any 3-year-old when it comes to stubbornness. When Lady doesn’t want to go for a walk, she plants all four paws in the center of the road and won’t budge. She’s like a Sherman tank mired in mud. The only direction she’ll go is home.
Lady has suffered Lord’s demise as much as we have. She’s never been a ball of fun as she was a rescue dog and I think such dogs carry a certain sobriety with them throughout their lives. I found her on a chain in a cold garage in an empty house in Hampton. Her owners had moved away and left her behind. I threw my arms around her and it was love at first sight. For me, that is, not for Lady.
The nicest thing Lady ever did for us was give birth to her pup, Lord. We never dreamed we would lose Lord before Lady. We’ve spent the last 7 years worrying about Lord, if and when we ever lost Lady. All worries in vain.
Lord sure loved his mom. He never laid down when he didn’t have some part of his body touching Lady. Every day he licked her from head to toe. Lady loved her daily bath.
Lord and Lady were arrested one day after getting into big trouble with a cat. The county wanted to put a yellow tag on their collars to identify them as “vicious dogs.” When the law came to the door with the summons, Lord was waiting. The officer reached down to pet him and Lord bellied up at his feet for a tummy rub.
“Is this the vicious dog I’ve come to arrest?” asked the incredulous officer.
“You’d see a different dog, sir, if you were a cat.” I answered. We both laughed.
We went to court to save the dogs from a yellow tag. The judge had five dogs and, thank goodness, he wasn’t convinced that dogs that went after cats were ferocious. The dogs were sentenced to a year’s probation and passed the test with flying colors.
Lord was so handsome he had every lady in town chasing after him. He was a pure devil with shoes and books. He must have destroyed two dozen of mine before he grew out of his puppy stage. He exasperated me to the point that I always called him, “Lord, have mercy on my soul.” Chip called him “handsome devil.”
Lord loved his toys. He had a basketful of them and he counted them every day to make sure he hadn’t misplaced any either under my bed or behind the sofa. Lady was allowed to play with his toys but when “Shadow,” his black lab cousin from Newport News came to visit, he stood holy guard.
At 110 pounds, Lord was a big guy, but the black lab female was a match for him. She would sneak up on Lord and his sacred mound of toys and snatch one and then go tearing off through the house. Around and around the dining room table they would go. But there was no catching Shadow and her stolen toy.
When Lord’s seizures started last year and he went on medication, he became a different dog. He lost his zip and playfulness. The adorable bright eyes became dull overnight. A medicated dog may live longer, but the medicine took a lot out of him. It probably gave him another year to live.
The secret of recovering from an upsetting loss in life is to change gears in the brain. Instead of thinking of how much you have lost and feeling sorry for yourself, you start to think about how much you have and how grateful you are to have anything. Along with a strong dose of simple appreciation, time also helps heal all wounds.
Oh, I’ll miss Lord, but I’m so grateful just to have Lady to keep me company. She’s not the most exciting dog in the world . . . but she’s big and furry and mine. And I love her with all my heart. What more can anyone ask for in this wonderful life?