All the dogs I’ve owned: a memoir

“You'll never be forgotten, you left pawprints on my heart.”

Since I was a youngin, I’ve always been fascinated with animals. In fact, when I came home from the hospital, I was quickly greeted by a large fluffy animal. Her name was Ashley, but I soon came to call her Boney.


Boney was a black Labrador retriever. She was a bigger lab because she, like all other labs, had a passion for eating. Her size was also due to a digestive issue. But thankfully she had patience when it came to dinner time.


My parents have told me stories of me taking some of her food while she, in trade, waited for me to knock food off the table. She never growled or snapped when I put my filthy hands into her bowl. Boney never even attempted to take her food back. She was the definition of a gentle giant.


Then, when my brother was about nine-years-old, he demanded we should get another dog. But this beast was unlike any other. In fact, her old owners originally returned her and there was a reason she was the only pup left. But my brother wasn’t the brightest offspring either.


But, we got her nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong, I did love this creature. Her name was Sarah but we more accurately called her Bear. Why? Because she ate like one.


This yellow Labrador was unlike any other. She lived for food! We always fed Boney and Bear around five o’clock. As soon as it was four, Bear would sprint to me. Sadly, this was the most athletic feat she ever achieved. She would dance too, genuinely boogey, for me to feed her. And as soon as it struck 4:50 p.m. I would pour her food in the bowl. The loud metallic clunk of her kibble was quickly covered by the sound of her devouring, no, vacuuming up the food. Dyson had nothing on this dog.


Sadly, Bear couldn’t care about rubs or toys like any normal dog would. Actually, sometimes she would get up off her chubby butt and meander to somewhere else when I tried to pet her. She just wanted to escape my love and affection. I still managed to sneak in a few rubs here and there. And she’d wait for me to get home from school and greet me with her famed dance.


Unfortunately, Boney had some issues with her digestive tract and they were relentless this time. We had to put the old girl down to end her painful suffering.


After our final goodbyes and a few months, we were ready to offer our love and affection to another dog. But this time, my parents decided to get a rescue dog. This is where Bliss came into my life.


From the moment I met this Rottweiler, I knew she was special. She tackled me and gave me a shower of licks. It was disgusting-yet-sweet and all I wanted was to get up off the ground. She forbade me and I just remember I was pinned by her immense power and I was laughing hysterically.


Since she was an adult rescue dog and a Rottweiler, we really didn’t know how to treat her. She didn’t know how to interact with us either. Rottweilers are well known for their strength and vigilant behavior. Factor in the part about her being a rescue and never having a real family, then you have a recipe for disaster.


Bliss wasn’t the nicest to us at first. When she laid in the hallway and I stepped near her, she’d lunge up and growl at me. However, she quickly learned we were there to love her, not abandon her. And Bear was there for her own food too, not Bliss’s.


Quickly, this Rottie showed her adventurous side. She ran away more than three times. This pup has also climbed snow piles, bit deer, herded children and killed a possum for challenging her territory. In fact, Bliss even made me go to the Emergency Room for nipping me.


Anyway, even though she may sound cruel, it’s only to irreverent beasts. Due to her territorial nature and stray uprising, Bliss isn’t very kind to other animals. When she snaps at another canine it’s because they forgot to show respect. She’s actually put Bear in her place a few times as well. All hail the Queen Rottie.


But when it comes to people, she’s the sweetest thing ever. Bliss has always gotten along well with every person she’s met. When I invited my group of friends over to my home, they couldn’t get over her. “She’s so friggin sweet!” they would say. Bliss is also an avid cuddler and will sometimes crush my lap with her sheer weight forgetting she’s not a lap dog.


Unfortunately, Bear’s purebred genetics caught up with her. She was riddled with tumors and one had ruptured her spleen. We said our final goodbyes and put her down.


A few months had passed and we were ready to adopt another dog. The only way my dad would cooperate was by getting an adult German shepherd. So, we got another rescue dog.


Enter Hazel, the German shepherd. Unfortunately, the reason why Hazel was a rescue was because she was abused and neglected by her previous owners. She was scrawny and skittish. She still is skittish in fact.


Although it is not confirmed dogs can develop post traumatic stress disorder, my family and I believe she has it. Any time we neared, she’d bark and scamper away. Even to this day, anytime anyone enters the house, she barks and runs around. Ironically, even though German shepherds are guard dogs, she barks loudly but runs the wrong way from the could-be threat. Hazel even slinks away and growls and barks at me when I just try to give her love.


Slowly Hazel began to tolerate my dad and mom. Now, she and my father have an unbreakable bond. She is literally his shadow and follows him around anywhere. Bliss also helped Hazel to come out of her shell and show her how to be a mostly normal dog. It’s hilarious to watch them play since Hazel literally leaps over her older sister. Maybe she’s part kangaroo.


Hopefully, one day Hazel will accept my affection. Only time will tell.