Friday, March 2, 2012

One Life

Our first rescue dog Feliz passed from this life in 2008 after sixteen years of sharing her love. As we knew it would, her death broke our hearts.

Grief manifests itself in many ways. For a long time, we heard the click of her nails on tile, still saw her shadow at the door, and we lingered at the garage, waiting for her to show and claim a biscuit. All of those moments were products of our wishful thinking and old habits are hard to deny, but it’s amazing how well she trained us. If Stephen King’s story in Pet Sematary were true, we’d gladly welcome her back to this life, even if she were the spawn of Satan.

That’s how much we loved her.

Her full name was Feliz Navidog. Yes, she was a Christmas present, but not for us. We had given her to my parents with the caveat that if they truly didn’t want a puppy, they could return her to us. (What were we thinking giving a puppy to my elderly parents? HA!) Within two weeks, back she came. In hindsight, she was the best present we ever got. We nearly called her Boomerang, but in Spanish, the word Feliz translates to ‘happy’ and that suited her just fine. She always had a smile on her face.

When she was a pup, she had a dark muzzle, one ear up and one down, a curled tail and an unfaltering bounce to her step. People often asked us what breed she was. In truth, she was a German Shepherd Chow mix, but we lovingly called her a “Somma Dog”—because she was somma dis, somma dat. But one man’s mutt is another man’s idea of perfection.

Feliz had many admirable skills, despite her questionable lineage.

She was a practitioner of puppy telepathy, transmitting her thoughts to us with a meaningful stare. She also spoke the language of human beings with unfailing accuracy, developing an extensive vocabulary. Balancing a biscuit on the end of her nose then tossing it into her mouth had become her signature move. And in later years, she mastered sign language when her hearing was failing. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Every morning of her life—without fail—she awoke for the sole purpose of pleasing us. We saw it in her face and felt it on her warm wet tongue. She never tired of the routine or the mundane, even after her joints got stiff and her eyesight grew dim—because in her mind, she was always that puppy with a bounce in her step.

It took us a long time to get over her death, but after I blogged about my grief, many people responded that it wasn’t about trying to replace her, it was about giving another deserving rescue dog a good home. That’s when we made up our minds to move on and open our home to more rescue animals. We now have four rescue animals, two dogs and two cats.

They are (we are) Feliz’s legacy. One life matters.

Dogs remind us that love should be unconditional. In their world, friendships begin with a well-placed and unerring sniff—completely devoid of an ulterior motive or personal agenda. If you pass the sniff test, you’re in. No cover charge and no membership fee. And with a mere wag of a tail, a dog can make you smile and lift your spirits. We can all learn from them—because their love comes from a higher place.

Please share your favorite pet story with us today. Funny or sad. We love them all.


O'Dell said...

I love this post. I don't know what I would do without Gia, my rescue husky. She always has me laughing and keeps me in check. She "talks", as most huskies do. I can tell by her tone when she needs to go out, when she's hungry, when it's time to go to bed and when she's chewing me out. I love her to death.

Jordan Dane said...

One of our rescue dogs (Sancho) is a talker too. Man, I know exactly what you mean. And he's taught our other dog (Taco) how to do it too. Cracks me UP!!!!

We call them the Bumpases, after the movie, "A Christmas Story" about the Red Ryder BB-gun rifle, the dogs that ran through their house at the end and nabbed their cooked turkey.

They are chaos on 8 legs.

I knew you had a rescue dog, O'Dell. Thanks for the chuckle. Go hug your Gia for me.

Caitlin said...

I miss my girl Candy Cane. She lived with my boyfriend's grandma and everytime we went to visit, Candy would come straight for me. I always sat on her couch, when she was younger she could jump up herself. Being older I would pick her up and she would plop down on me. All four of us would just relax and watch tv. Sometimes she would bark at the tv because another dog was on it. She was such a sweety and I will always love her and miss her.

Jordan Dane said...

They really leave a hole in their wake after they leave. Their lives are so short, but they make our lives sweeter. Thanks for sharing Candy Cane with us.

Anita Grace Howard said...

Aww. That makes me so sad! They become such a part of the family. :(

My black lab, Raven, LOVES to catch things and give them to us as gifts. And I don't mean balls or frisbees.

A while back, she came up behind me while I was oustide filling their food dishes and headbutted me several times in the back of my knee. I only thought it was her head. It was actually a limp, dead squirrel that she was VERY proud of.

I FREAKED. *I don't do rodents* and my son had to come out and rescue me because the more I tried to escape, the faster my lab chased me w/the squirrel. She thought we were playing. LOL

Jordan Dane said...

Omg! Too funny. They are so proud of their kills & she wanted to share it with you. Ahhhh. (Ew)